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Newcastle fans worst fears are finally confirmed with Rafa Benitez's departure confirmed

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Newcastle fans left furious

Newcastle United fans are up there with the most passionate fans in the game. Week-in-week-out they pack out St. James' Park, 52,000 supporters cram into the terraces to get behind the lads. And this is despite two relegations in ten years and an owner who doesn't have their best interests at heart.

They're still one of the biggest clubs in the country and this is how they managed to convince Rafa Benitez, a proven winner, to move to the north east after leaving Real Madrid three years ago. The Spaniard took over the club in extremely difficult circumstances with them staring an inevitable relegation in the face, but despite this he stayed, delivered the Championship title and two years of consolidation in the Premier League.

Rafa's used to working at big clubs and with big resources, at Newcastle there's just one of those things. He's been working on a shoestring budget for the majority of his time at St. James' Park but the club is now at something of a crossroads and decisions need to be made.

Mike Ashley Sports Direct Newcastle United
Mike Ashley's 12 year spell as owner as Newcastle United has been one of the most controversial in Premier League history - but letting Rafa go would rank well amongst his biggest mistakes

Controversial owner Mike Ashley has made no secret of his desire to sell the club and there has been strong interest, with Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan in talks over a £350m deal. Discussions have been going on for weeks and it's something that needs to be resolved soon if they're to retain Rafa, which now looks incredibly unlikely.

He's been unwilling to commit his future to the club under the current Ashley regime. He wants him to give him the funds to really build on the tremendous work he's done so far and take the Magpies to the next level, which is what all the supporters want. But it appears that the man at top refuses to do so, which is a real sad state of affairs as Newcastle United are one of the Premier League's top clubs.

He made it clear what he wanted and after months of unsuccessful negotiations, it was confirmed on Monday that Rafa will be departing the club upon the expiry of his contract. An absolutely shambolic decision by Mike Ashley and one that could prove to be an error of catastrophic proportions.

An error of the highest order

There aren't too many world class managers available in football so when you have one, you need to do everything in your power to support and retain them.

Rafa Benitez certainly fits into that world class bracket. The Spaniard has enjoyed trophy laden spells at pretty much every single club he's been at during his career and to say he's adored up in the north east is an understatement, he's a god to the Newcastle United supporters.

It's not often that you see a manager and the fans enjoy such a connection so what they have is quite unique, which makes his current contract situation all the more concerning.

Rafa made it clear that he wanted to remain at the club but he just didn't receive the backing he demanded. Newcastle have been shopping in the bargain bin for the majority of their time back in the Premier League and with their rivals spending massive sums, something needs to change if they're to push on and climb up that table.

When you look at their squad on paper and see the lack of depth, it is a worry. They should be battling relegation but in each of their two seasons back in the top flight Rafa has comfortably consolidated them with 10th (17/18) & 13th (18/19) placed finishes, which when you see the resources he has available is very impressive.

They may not be the most talented group but he's got his players fighting for the shirt and in turn it's seen them adapt well to life back in the Premier League.

So all this begs the question - why on earth wouldn't Ashley back him?

Keeping Rafa at the club would've made the fans happy (something Ashley has no idea about), it will pretty much ensure Premier League survival and it'll also make the Magpies a much more attractive proposition to potential buyers.

No disrespect to Garry Monk who is an excellent young manager, but he is currently the favourite to replace Benitez at Newcastle. If you was looking to buy a football club and had the choice of Monk or Rafa, there's only going to be one winner.

But again at the end of the day, everything comes down to the chequebook. The endless amounts revenue from the Premier League should ensure that Newcastle spend but with Ashley looking to sell up, he's reluctant to splash out.

If he did indeed have the clubs best interests at heart (which it looks like he obviously doesn't) he would get Rafa tied down to a lengthy deal and give him the resources he needs to take the club to the next level.

Sure it might hit his pockets, but what if the Spaniard guided the Magpies to a Europa League spot or a cup final? He would be able to demand a bigger sum for the club when it comes to selling and there'd be plenty of interested potential buyers.

A farcical situation

Mike Ashley has made some terrible decisions in his twelve years as Newcastle United owner, but allowing Rafa to run his contract down and walk away from the clubs is certainly up there with worst.

This is the man who appointed Steve McClaren, the man who gave Alan Pardew and 8, yes EIGHT year-deal but won't fight tooth and nail to keep a man who's won league and Champions League titles. It's absurd beyond belief and the ramifications could be catastrophic for Newcastle if he does move on.

Without Rafa and with the squad Newcastle currently have, relegation could be a real possibility and matters on the pitch aren't the only concern. Magpies supporters have a tremendous relationship with the Spaniard and they would be absolutely furious beyond belief if he was to leave.

Season tickets have already gone up by 5% and they have the most expensive home shirt in the Premier League, so add the hammerblow of their hero leaving into the equation and you have a hoard of angry people.

There hasn't been love for an NUFC manager like this since the Kevin Keegan days when Newcastle were challenging for titles and Rafa certainly wants to be the man who takes them back up the table.

He knows the potential of the city, the stadium, the fans and the club as a whole. It's just a shame that those who make the important decisions at St. James' Park don't see that, or aren't willing to fund that.

Newcastle United had to retain Rafa at ALL costs, but with now with his contract set to end on Sunday, the fans only have a few more days of his reign left.

Mr Ashley, you have so much to answer for.