COMMENT By Matt Farr
The future of Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has been one the main talking points over the course of the season.
It has often overshadowed their tremendous domestic campaign, which saw them earn immediate promotion back to the Premier League, and win the Championship title.
But following their promotion success, Newcastle chiefs finally sat down with Benitez to discuss his future at the club, and the results could not have been more positive.
The issue for Benitez lay in the transfer market.
Having failed to land any of his targets during the transfer window, the Spaniard was left seriously contemplating his future at St. James’ Park, with no real certainty over who held responsibility over the club’s transfers.
However, his meeting with Mike Ashley earlier this month saw Benitez granted more control over the club’s transfer dealings, and given their full financial backing ahead of the summer.
The news has already had a positive knock-on effect at the club, with Newcastle understood to have agreed a deal to sign Christian Atsu on a permanent deal from Chelsea.
But with Ashley and the Newcastle board having fulfilled their end of the bargain in meeting Benitez’s transfer demands, the Spaniard must now prove it was all worth it.
Before the onus was on Ashley and co to surrender to his quite reasonable demands, but now the Magpies chief has to justify his own intentions.
The only way he can do that is by bringing in the necessary talent to vastly improve the quality of the current Newcastle squad, and ensure the club’s survival in the Premier League next term.
Atsu is a good start, having made a decent impression whilst on loan at the club this season, but fans will be hoping Benitez will be setting his sights on much bigger things over the coming months.
If he can break the bank to sign quality Premier League talent like Daniel Sturridge, one of the best strikers in the league when fit, or an experienced player like Michael Carrick, the fans will be happy.
The board’s decision, meanwhile, will also be justified.
There is no doubt at this stage that Benitez will bring in the right players, having done an impressive job last summer.
Despite losing the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko following their relegation, the club snapped up Premier League trio Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and Ciaran Clark, who have all been of great success.
Before the onus was on Ashley and co to surrender to the quite reasonable demands of Benitez, but now the Magpies chief has to justify his own intentions. He has a massive point to prove.
In other Newcastle news, Benitez has revealed what he expects from his side in the Premier League next season.