The Spaniard left St James’ Park at the end of his three-year contract at the start of July and was appointed at Dalien Yifang shortly after his exit, taking charge of his first game just days after the deal was announced.
Taking to his personal website to write about his first week at his new club, Benitez has made the remarkable claim that he has met the chairman and other senior figures more in the last seven days than he did during his time at Newcastle United.
He wrote: “I must say that I have had more meetings with the Chairman, the President and the General Manager this week, than I had in 3 years at Newcastle. They haven’t just been work meetings, rather signs of respect in which we have been able to appreciate the differences and similarities in our cultures.
If this is not a veiled criticism of how the Newcastle board have operated over the past three years then we do not know what is. Benitez’s time on Tyneside came to what many, including the manager, will see as a disappointing and abrupt end and now that he is not contracted at St James’ Park he can say what he likes – within reason of course. He obviously wanted to forge a better relationship – and if not that simply wanted to improve communication – with those above him at Newcastle but there always appeared to be some hostility between the two parties. Without knowing exactly what happened behind closed doors it is impossible to make an out-and-out but you can imagine that the board were not willing to match Benitez’s ambitions for the club. Some might argue a move to China is a financial, rather than footballing, decision from the Spaniard and that might very well be the case. Having spent three years battling with the board – when they decided to talk to him that is – you can understand why he might want to put himself first right now.