Tuesday 16 January 2018

Benitez future at Newcastle still in doubt

Newcastle have failed to close deals that Benitez (above) knew were there to be finalised. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Newcastle have failed to close deals that Benitez (above) knew were there to be finalised. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Martin Hardy

Rafa Benitez will continue as Newcastle United manager for now, but the Spaniard has, for the second time this summer, grown frustrated at the club's inability or reluctance to secure his top transfer targets and could yet leave St James' Park.

The Spaniard - a huge favourite with the supporters after staying with the club following their relegation and then masterminding their charge back to the top flight - has won his internal power battle with Graham Carr, whose influence at the club extended far beyond his role as chief scout.

Carr finally left the club by mutual consent last Wednesday, despite it having been the first request from the former Liverpool boss in his post-promotion debrief with managing director Lee Charnley in May.

And yet frustration persists because Newcastle have failed to close deals that Benitez knew were there to be finalised.

The Magpies dragged their heels on a deal for Florian Lejeune, a well-considered defender at Eibar, and fatally dawdled over the loan signing of Chelsea's Tammy Abraham, who has instead agreed a deal to move to Swansea.

While Willy Caballero legitimately chose Chelsea over Newcastle, it was another blow for Benitez, who fears complacency over transfers could leave the Magpies in a relegation fight.

Benitez came close to walking away from the club a month ago with similar complaints.

Carr's eventual departure and some well-considered advice from those around him changed his mind, but there was the expectation that deals he had marked as 'high priority' would be complete by the time his side return for training in early July. The clock is ticking and the outlook isn't great.

West Ham are known to be watching his situation with interest. © Independent News Service.

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