Date: 30th June 2019 at 9:00pm
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Former AFC Wimbledon striker David Connolly has claimed that Rafael Benitez may not have been given sufficient funds by Mike Ashley while at Newcastle United because of his final years as Liverpool boss.

Benitez will no longer be officially associated with the Magpies from Monday, after it was announced earlier in the week that the Spaniard will be leaving upon the expiration of his contract.

One of the reported reasons why Benitez could not agree a deal with owner Ashley was due to the fact that he would only be given a £60million transfer budget this summer [Newcastle Chronicle].

Speaking to talkSPORT‘s The Final Word programme [Sunday, June 30th, 6:22pm], Connolly said that Ashley may have been unwilling to give Benitez any more due to the fact that the manager’s spell with Liverpool ended badly due to a number of poor signings.

“Do you think Mike Ashley might have looked at when it didn’t work out for Benitez at Liverpool towards the end – when he made a few signings that didn’t work out?” the 42-year-old said.

“Do you think he maybe doesn’t have confidence in [Benitez’s] transfer dealings? I don’t know, I’m just wondering why he hasn’t given him the money.”

OPINION

This is certainly an interesting shout from Connolly, and while there is no evidence to say whether he is right or wrong – unless Ashley is questioned directly on the issue – it’s one for the Magpies fans to consider. The fact is, £60million clearly does not show enough ambition, and it is clear Benitez was looking for quite a bit more for him to be able to move the club forward from where they are now. And after he didn’t get it, it was reportedly one of the big reasons why he has eventually left. So, naturally, Newcastle fans will want answers as to why Ashley wasn’t willing to budge with the amount of money he wanted to give to the manager. One thing is for certain is that in the final stages of his Liverpool spell, Benitez and the Reds board fell out, leading to him leaving. So yes, that may have been in the back of Ashley’s mind. But also in Ashley’s mind would have been the fact that Newcastle is just a part of his business empire, so maybe it was a simple case of making sure he balanced the books. Maybe we will never know.