Date: 21st June 2019 at 9:04pm
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Newcastle United fans will surely hate to see that Times journalist George Caulkin has admitted that Rafa Benitez’s time at St James’ Park is over.

According to the trusted North-East reporter’s “honest assessment” via his personal Twitter account on Friday, the Spanish manager is “gone” as long as there aren’t any last-ditch miracles at the Tyneside club.

Benitez’s contract expires at the end of June and despite there being lengthy talks between him, Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley after the 2018/19 season ended, there has been no news since and that has forced Caulkin to admit the worst possible news for the Toon Army.

Benitez has been the best manager that Newcastle United have had in a very long time.

Although he suffered relegation in his first season in charge, he dragged the Tyneside club back up into the Premier League as Championship champions and achieved back-to-back survivals despite working with one hand tied behind his back due to budget restraints.

In the 2017/18 season – Newcastle’s first campaign back in the Premier League – the club’s net spend was just £46million.

Last summer the Magpies made a profit of £20million on player transfers before Ashley finally broke the mould and allowed Benitez to splash a club record fee worth around £20million on Miguel Almiron in January.

Compared to what other clubs have spend, Benitez has worked wonders at St James’ Park.

His squad still features a good number of players who starred in the club’s Championship-winning campaign in 2016/17 and last term he had to rely on a loan-swap with West Brom to get Salomon Rondon to spearhead his attack and fire the team to safety.

If you look at most Premier League squads on paper, Newcastle are a team that could finish in the bottom three, but when you look at who is in charge of that team, you would back them to ease to safety.

Without Benitez at the helm next season, the Magpies could easily go down.

Unless Ashley sells the club soon, he could be on his way to a third relegation as Newcastle owner.

Caulkin is one of the most reliable journalists there is when it comes to Newcastle, and his honest thoughts on the future of Benitez will surely be gut-wrenching for the Toon Army, who will now fear for a future without their Spanish leader.