Jim White all but took a dig at Rafa Benitez over becoming manager of Dalian Yifang as he seemed to try to stir the pot among Newcastle United fans.
Benitez was appointed as the manager of Chinese side Dalian Yifang on Tuesday, as covered by BBC Sport, and White seemed to wonder if that had forced Magpies fans to stop bemoaning the manager leaving St James Park.
“He has joined Dalian Yifang, whoever they are, and a cool £12million in the process, what’s your take on it as many Newcastle fans are bemoaning the fact he has gone,” said White on talkSPORT (10:35am, Tuesday, July 2nd).
While that appeared to be a dig at Benitez as he was implying that the manager had left the Magpies to join a nobody for the money, as why else would he mention what the ex-Magpies boss is reportedly earning at the Chinese club (Source: BBC), White didn’t stop there.
“He said and I quote, ‘I wanted to develop a project at Newcastle’ we understand that, ‘I wanted to compete and be competitive in cups and to be as close as possible to the top of the league’ and is he going to do that in China?” added White (10:42).
The talkSPORT broadcaster then, after Michael Gray and Bob Mills had their views, emphatically said: “At the end of the day, now you have seen what has unfolded, do you still feel the same about Rafa Benitez? And the nature and circumstances of his departure, are there Newcastle fans out there who in one sense were like we really miss Benitez but now you’ve seen what he is going to earn, do you still feel the same?”
Many Newcastle fans have felt sad over Benitez leaving their club and clearly wish he hadn’t left as some of them responded to the news of the Spaniard taking over the Chinese club by urging him to come back.
While White seems to think Magpies supporters should be changing their opinion given where Benitez has gone, why should they?
Firstly, White is arrogant to dismiss the Chinese club as they compete in the Chinese Super League, which is a division trying to get better by welcoming high-profile names, so why wouldn’t Benitez want to be part of that?
He doesn’t have to assume the manager has only gone there for the money, there are other plausible reasons.
Also, it doesn’t really mattered who became Benitez’s next club, as that doesn’t take away from what he achieved at St James Park.
The Spaniard won the Championship with the Magpies to get them instantly back in the Premier League and guided them to two comfortably finishes in England’s top-flight with the Magpies finishing 10th in their 2017/18 campaign and 13th in their 2018/19 season.
Benitez averaged an impressive 1.48 points per game across the 146 games he was in charge of as Newcastle boss (Source: Transfermarkt), and that stat remains the same whether he left for the money or not.
So with that, in mind, while White won’t directly take a dig at Benitez over him leaving Newcastle and ending up in China; he hopefully won’t succeed in stirring Magpies fans up in order to make them wrongly feel betrayed by the ex-Magpies boss.