Rafael Benitez has revealed that he told Newcastle United that he would be leaving the club as early as May.
The Spaniard has suggested that, after his first meeting with owner Mike Ashley, there was no real chance of him staying for another year at St James’ Park.
Contract talks continued between the pair as far as June, but the two could not agree on their long-term vision for the club.
Benitez told the Daily Mail, “But I will say after the meeting in London on May 16 it was a clear decision for me and a few days later we told the club that we would not extend the contract.”
The former Liverpool boss officially left the role at the end of June on the expiry of his current deal, with a new manager yet to be appointed by the Magpies.
The saga at Newcastle just continues to grow and grow. This will come as no real surprise to the fans who have come to expect nothing less from Ashley during his time as an owner. It is the complete silence that has hurt them this time, as Benitez’ departure has come across as if it was a battle all the way until the final day to keep hold of their marquee boss. To not try more than one meeting to keep Benitez is ludicrous; after all, the Spaniard stayed through the club’s hardest times, including relegation to the Championship. The 59-year-old oversaw 146 games for the Magpies, and on a limited budget managed to hold over a point per game average of 1.48 [Source: Transfermarkt]. It is too late for anything to be done now, with Benitez already moving to China to take charge of Dalian Yifang. This will be another revelation that Ashley will be remembered for, as fans are now surely counting the days to his departure a bit more rigorously now.