Paul Merson makes worrying claim over Benitez's Newcastle future
By Russell Edge
Pundit Paul Merson believes that Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez will walk away from the club this summer having earned promotion to the Premier League.
Newcastle won their place in the top flight with a 4-1 win over Preston North End in April and go into the final day of the season knowing that they could still be crowned champions of the Championship.
However, Benitez’s future has been in doubt after he gave a coy response when asked whether he would be managing Newcastle next season, replying “You never know, that is football”, as reported by Daily Mail journalist Craig Hope on his official Twitter account.
Question: Will you be in charge in the Premier League?
Rafa Benitez: You never know, that is football.
— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) April 24, 2017
Former Arsenal man Paul Merson believes that Benitez is set to walk out the door of St James’ Park, following their successful season.
In a column for the Daily Star, he wrote: “Rafa Benitez can leave Newcastle a hero if he walks out this summer – and I think he will.
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“He can leave with his head held high.”
Merson bases his doubts on the fact that Benitez will believe he needs a big transfer fund in order to build a squad capable of competing in the Premier League.
The former England man questions whether Newcastle owner Mike Ashley will loosen the purse strings for Benitez, and says the Spanish manager will not hang around if he does not feel supported.
“Without new signings they’ll finish 15th or 16th at best in the Prem,” said Merson in the Daily Star.
“He might wonder whether it’s worth it if he doesn’t get a big transfer budget.
“He could walk into another job fairly easily. He would be in demand.”
Newcastle’s final fixture sees them face Barnsley at St James’ Park, knowing that if they better league leaders Brighton’s result against Aston Villa, they will end the season at the top of the table.
In other Newcastle news, fans have urged Benitez to secure the signature of this 25-year-old tearing up the league.