Rafa Benitez to Newcastle - why it's highly unlikely, but not impossible

Rafa Benitez 3

The Napoli boss has been strongly linked with a move to the North East for next season.

Former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez is being strongly linked with the role at Newcastle United for next season, with the Spaniard out of contract at his current club Napoli in the summer.

Benitez has intimated he is in discussions to extend his stay in Serie A but the prospect of him returning to the Premier League is an interesting one. 

Purely for his pedigree, you could say that Newcastle could do a lot worse. A man who masterminded Liverpool's Champions League triumph also has two La Liga titles, two UEFA Cups, the FA Cup and the Coppa Italia to his name, as well as the World Club Cup and the Italian Super Cup during his otherwise forgotten reign at Inter Milan.

He knows how to win trophies and has experience of getting sides into the Champions League. Liverpool enjoyed their best sustained run in Europe's premier competition under his stewardship, while he managed to guide Chelsea to a place there during his brief time in West London. 

At Napoli he guided them to a third place finish, and is on course to do the same again this season. The pedigree is certainly there for him to take a club such as Newcastle from the mid-table Premier League side they currently are to one that can challenge for the European places season on season, while perhaps having a shot at winning a trophy.

The other side of the coin is Benitez's relationship with the club hierarchy, and Mike Ashley doesn't appear to have been the easiest owner to deal with at Newcastle United.

During Benitez's demise at Liverpool, a lot was made of him wanting power and being constantly at war with the owners. While there may have been an element of truth that he wanted more control and say with what was going on at the club, one has to appreciate the environment he was operating in. Shortly after his departure under the hated reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett at Anfield, the club was on the brink of being declared bankrupt, and a high court ruling forced through the sale of the club.

In reality, those owners made life very difficult for the Spaniard as he wasn't able to build on some very good foundations he put down at Anfield.

There seemed to be a lack of appreciation of what he was up against during his final years on Merseyside. There is also the famous quote during his time at Valencia when he fell out with their hierarchy regarding transfer policy, where he said: "I asked for a table and they bought me a lamp."

He is likely to be met with the same kind of frustration at Newcastle United. The most high profile example recently will have been the sale of Yohan Cabaye last season in January to Paris Saint Germain, and it seems Alan Pardew wasn't able to buy a replacement. The recruitment policy seems to be away from the manager or a head coach. It would require a change in approach from Benitez for him to feel he can work under such conditions.

The one thing he does have in his favour is that he knows what is required of a head coach and has fulfilled that position at other clubs before. If he were to eventually be in charge of first team affairs at Newcastle, if he went in with the acknowledgement that he'd get more lamps with tables, then it could work in the short term, perhaps. But, of course, a lot of this could depend on how well John Carver fares between now and the end of the campaign.

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