Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rafa's 'Fear of Ashley's Axe'

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rafa's 'Fear of Ashley's Axe'

Article excerpt

RAFA Benitez "fears" the sack at Newcastle United - because he believes Mike Ashley will attempt to save himself from a fans' revolt next summer, writes CHRIS WAUGH.

That was the claim in a national Sunday newspaper, a suggestion which has arisen just a day after Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was linked with succeeding Benitez at the Magpies if the Spaniard was dismissed mid-season - should results fail to improve.

With Newcastle second-bottom of the Premier League and having claimed just two points from their opening eight matches, Benitez recognises the need for United to start picking up wins quickly - and has labelled the next three months as "crucial" for United's campaign.

United Mike Ashley Yet, although the Magpies' disappointing start has been concerning, it also needs placing in context.

Newcastle ended the summer window with a net profit in terms of transfer dealings, while the United hierarchy have yet to let Benitez spend big in the market since the club returned to the Premier League.

Given those factors - plus the body of work Benitez has already accrued at St James' Park with promotion as Championship winners and then a 10th-placed top-flight finish last season - the 58-year-old would understandably argue he deserves to be given time to turn Newcastle's campaign around.

However, according to the report, Benitez is "disturbed" Rodgers' name has been linked with Newcastle and is concerned Ashley is putting plans in place to change manager before the campaign is out.

Benitez is into the final seven months of his United contract and, having rejected at least two offers of a new deal from the club's hierarchy, has postponed extension talks until after the January transfer window.

The Spaniard is still hugely popular on Tyneside and the majority of the Newcastle fanbase remain convinced he is the man to lead the Magpies forward - and would like to see Benitez backed with significant investment in January in the hope that will convince the 58-year-old to sign a new deal. …

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