Date: 24th June 2019 at 9:00pm
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shared he was devastated that was set to leave Newcastle United and claimed his past remarks on the club were misinterpreted.  

The retired cricketer previously got ripped apart by some Newcastle fans on social media for saying that Benitez would not be forgiven for leaving the club while on Jim White’s talkSPORT show.

“It’s a massive nightmare, it’s one I’ll never want to wait up from,” said Harmison on talkSPORT (18:19, Monday June 24th).

“I’m devastated, absolutely devastated, the only people who are losing are Newcastle United supporters as it has been a game of poker between two powerful figures in the form of Rafa and Ashley, and the people who are losing are people that love the club more than anything else.

“That’s the disappointing thing in this, y’know Rafa came out and said he loved the club in April and that he wanted to stay, he wanted the contract, Newcastle fans wanted him to stay, I wanted him to stay and I don’t blame him for leaving.

“I was on Jim White’s show the other day and I may have come across particularly wrong in how I said it, but it’s just the timing for me, we’re six weeks from the season gone, 10 days from pre-season starting, no manager, no players potentially coming in, it’s a power struggle.

“Are we going to be sold? Are there alternative motives here by Mike Ashley with him just thinking right it’s up to Rafa if he wants to stay, that’s it.”

Harmison then directly spoke about Ashley and threw accusations at the Magpies owner by saying that he wondered if Ashley letting Benitez go was payback for how Magpies fans criticise him.

“I’m not saying is he bothered? But is this…if cynical me looks at this, is this Ashley’s parting shot while you’ve been slagging me off for the last eight, nine years, I’m gonna leave the club and I’m gonna leave you with nothing,” added the talkSPORT pundit.

“Is this Ashley’s final kick in the teeth to the supporters?”

OPINION

Harmison seemed generally hurt that his previous comments on Newcastle and Benitez had been interpreted so badly as he tried to make clear he didn’t mean to knock the Spanish manager or undervalue how loved he was by supporters. However, you wonder if Harmison just regrets his remarks due to how much criticism they got, as he seemed to constantly try to distance himself. Yet aside from him clearly protesting his previous remarks were misinterpreted, he goes on to speak a lot of sense. Just like any Newcastle fan, Harmison is sad to see Benitez go and is worried what the future holds as it leaves the club in a pickle with pre-season looming. The longer the Magpies take to find someone to succeed Benitez, the more likely it is going to hamper any potential transfer business they were looking to do. After finishing 13th in the Premier League during the 2018/19 campaign, clearly, the Magpies would have wanted to improve their squad as a club of their stature should be aiming to at least finish in the top-half. However, that is going to be difficult if the right replacement for Benitez isn’t found or if talented players don’t arrive to improve the squad. As for Harmison’s accusations at Ashley, if he is right to point his finger at the Magpies owner’s motivations for waving goodbye to Benitez,  because if true it would make the businessman petty and childish.