Adrian Durham claimed it would be completely wrong for Newcastle United fans to boycott the club following Rafa Benitez’s exit.
The Magpies confirmed via their official website on Monday that Benitez would be leaving St James Park when his contract expires on June 30th, and the talkSPORT broadcaster warned fans against staging a boycott.
Durham claimed that it wouldn’t be fair to the Magpies’ players, naming Miguel Almiron in particular, and pointed out it would be wrong if it turned out Benitez had rejected the club in order to earn big money in China.
“There are two things worth remembering here, any fan who is considering boycotting the club needs to think again,” said Durham on talkSPORT (17:06, Monday, June 24th).
“Do you think that’s fair on the players? I’ll answer that question if you think about Miguel Almiron who is currently playing in the Copa America, he’s swapped continents for Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United and now Rafa has gone, do you think it’s right and proper that you turn your back on those players?
“Turn your back on Ashley, fine. But to not support the players is something completely different and I think it would be completely wrong, whether it’s through emotion…you can not, not support those players.
“Second thing is this if Benitez has left turning down this new offer, which we’re led to believe was on the table at the same money, but there were serious incentives, if he has turned it down for big money in China, will that leave a nasty taste on Tyneside?
“As that doesn’t sit quite right with me.”
Okay, Durham is on the money with 50% of what he is saying here. It would be unfair on the Magpies’ current squad if fans boycotted games, as it would affect them. It wouldn’t be a pleasant experience for the players to play in an empty St James Park or one with a toxic atmosphere, as it’s not their fault Benitez is gone. It also wouldn’t help them perform on the pitch. After all, while it’s sad to see Benitez go, Newcastle fans will still want their club to do well in the upcoming season; and it will be hard for results to be racked up if the players are either distracted or feeling unloved by fans. However, while Durham is right to warn fans off a boycott for that reason; his remarks on Benitez see him barking up the wrong tree. If the Spanish manager has left to manage a Chinese club, who can blame him? Benitez surely would have stayed at the Magpies on lesser money, then the reported £12million-a-year that is on offer in China, if he knew the Premier League club were going to match his ambitions. However if that truly wasn’t going to happen, and it probably wasn’t based on his exit, why shouldn’t he take the most lucrative deal on the table?