MX23RW : Thursday, October 28 17:52:15| >> :60:22:22:

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley launches attack on Rafael Benitez

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley launches attack on Rafael Benitez
© Reuters
Spaniard Benitez is now in charge of Dalian Yifang and has been succeeded at St James' Park by Steve Bruce.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has accused former manager Rafael Benitez of "taking the soft option" in moving to China.

The former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss left St James' Park after failing to agree a new contract – Ashley claims his preference was to tie him down to an eight-year deal – and promptly agreed a reported £12million-a-year contract with Dalian Yifang.

Ashley said it was impossible for Newcastle to have kept Benitez because of the demands he made as his deal expired.

"If you come out and say the things he did you would think it was football club first, Rafa second, money third. I'd say it was money first, Rafa, then the club last," Ashley told the Daily Mail.

"He took the totally soft option, took the money and went to China. That disappoints me.

"If he'd gone back to Real Madrid, or a top-six club in the Premier League, I get it, but it was about money and all he had to do was say that from the beginning.

"He asked for a 50 per cent pay increase and I think he did that because he knew it couldn't work.

"And if we had agreed to that, I think it would have been something else. And everyone thinks we lost him because we wouldn't pay a couple of quid more. We couldn't have done any more.

"He had talked about what he could earn in China previously. We were not even slightly surprised by that move."

Upon his appointment in Dalian in early July, however, Benitez said: "I have had offers of greater financial significance during my career, but they weren't the project I was looking for."

Benitez's replacement, Steve Bruce, has received a lukewarm welcome from fans despite being a boyhood fan having been born just 16 miles from the city.

Ashley cannot understand why the reception had been so bad.

Steve Bruce has taken over at St James' Park
Steve Bruce has taken over at St James' Park (Owen Humphreys/PA)

"I expected the negative reaction to Rafa leaving but I was shocked by the reaction to Steve," he added.

"He doesn't deserve it. He's one of their own. I don't think the fans quite realise what they've got because I'm hoping he's the one.

"There's been some hurtful stuff, that he was our 11th choice. Actually, we had a short-list of three and Steve was one of them."

Ashley has been criticised himself for not selling the club despite a number of reported offers.

However, in the absence of any genuine bids he expects to remain there for some time.

"I have to assume I will stay running this football club. There are no offers," he said.

"I think I could own this football club forever. That is my new mental state.

"I will not stand in the way of Newcastle United. I will not stop that (sale), if it happens."

ID:366235: cacheID:366235:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:restore:7226:
Restore Data
Share this article now:
Did you know...?
Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce watches on during his side's Championship clash with Swansea City on February 23, 2019
Read Next:
Steve Bruce plays down Newcastle United speculation
>

rhs 2.0
Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Chelsea97112332022
2Liverpool96302762121
3Manchester CityMan City96212041620
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham95221610617
5Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton943299015
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs9504913-415
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd94231615114
8Everton94231514114
9Leicester CityLeicester94231515014
10Arsenal94231013-314
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves941499013
12Brentford9333119212
13Aston Villa93151315-210
14Watford93151217-510
15Crystal Palace91621114-39
16Southampton9153812-48
17Leeds UnitedLeeds9144816-87
18Burnley9045715-84
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle90451120-94
20Norwich CityNorwich9027223-212

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!