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.
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.