Rafa Benitez has hit back at Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley for taking a swipe at him in the match programme at the weekend.
Charnley, as quoted by the Chronicle, claimed that Benitez had only joined Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang “for money” not long after turning down a contract offer to stay put at St James’ Park.
However the Spaniard has now made it clear that the offer that was tabled to him by Newcastle was not an improvement on what he was already earning, plus the club failed to impress him with their lack of desire to improve the academy and training facilities.
“I’ve been made aware of what Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, claimed in the club’s match programme last weekend and I think it’s important I address that,” Benitez wrote on The Athletic website.
He added: “Newcastle’s board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn’t make me an offer I could accept. They told me they didn’t want to invest in the academy or the training ground — if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that. Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under 24 and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top 10.
“After that meeting, I knew they would not come back with a serious offer and, when it arrived, 19 days later, it was for the same salary as three years earlier and with less control over signings. Charnley’s comments in the programme about having a deal agreed for Joelinton in February explains a lot that I couldn’t understand at that time.
“After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.”
It’s irrelevant that Benitez went to China. He did not leave Newcastle because of Dalian’s offer – he left Newcastle because of Ashley and Charnley’s pitiful attempts to keep him. If certain assurances were made to the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss then surely he would have stayed put on Tyneside. Instead, the club’s woeful future vision and lack of ambition drove their best manager since Sir Bobby Robson away. Charnley’s dig at Benitez in the match programme on Sunday was pathetic. It’s like he does not have a clue how the fan base is feeling at the moment. They are so out of touch it really boggles the mind. They will gain nothing by hitting out at Benitez. Even though he has now left St James’ Park, he will remain more popular than Ashley and his cronies ever will among the Toon Army. All of this needs to blow over now and hopefully this comment by Benitez is the last we’ll hear of it. Newcastle need to get on with it with Steve Bruce as their manager and Benitez needs to forget about the past, support the present, and pray for the future.