Should Rafa Benitez stay at Newcastle or swap dugouts to West Ham?

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 17 May 2018, 10:10

The summer sacking season exploded into action on Wednesday after old guns Sam Allardyce and David Moyes were sent packing by Everton and West Ham respectively.

The double departure, which occurred in the space of two hours, could well spark further exits in the Premier League.

Antonio Conte is set to leave Chelsea after Saturday’s FA Cup Final, with the Blues reportedly keen on Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino, while Claude Puel’s future at Leicester City is shredded in doubt.

However, the focus is currently on Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez who is wanted by West Ham.

We assess the Spaniard's options below...

Stay at Newcastle

Between late October and mid-December Newcastle registered one point from a possible 27, leaving the club 18th in the table.

Benitez cut an increasingly frustrated figure, but dug deep, lifted spirits, and in the end inspired a 10th place finish in the Toon’s first season back in the big time - given the hole they were in prior to Christmas he deserves full plaudits for what turned out to be a creditable campaign.

Benitez still has a year remaining on his Toon contract, but has yet to extend his deal due to continued off-field uncertainty, while the Spaniard is understandably keen for assurances over transfers, and future progression.

The Sun are reporting that Mike Ashley now values Newcastle at a whopping £400m, meaning he’s unlikely to be going anywhere, which could ultimately force Benitez to listen to offers elsewhere...

Switch to West Ham

Rewind to 2015 and Benitez was all set to take charge of West Ham following the departure of Sam Allardyce, only for Real Madrid to come knocking and in turn break Hammers hearts.

Fast-forward to the present day and West Ham are once again attempting to appoint the 58-year-old, who is their number one target following the exit of David Moyes.

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The Irons, who are also linked with Manuel Pellegrini and Paulo Fonseca, are prepared to offer a new boss cash to splash in the transfer window, and will draw confidence from the fact that Benitez has yet to pen a new deal with the Magpies.

West Ham reportedly want to make an appointment within the next 10 days, and if they really do want Benitez, they’ll not only have to prove to him that they are a better prospect than Newcastle, but shed out £6m to release him from his contract.

Wait for another job

West Ham are currently the only confirmed club that are keen on Benitez.

However, that’s sure to change if Leicester axe Puel, or Pochettino decides to leaves Tottenham, although a switch to Everton (33/1) is unlikely give his loyalty to Liverpool. Chelsea (33/1) and Arsenal (66/1) are also long shots.

Foxes chiefs will no doubt show interest in Benitez (10/1) should they boot Puel out of the exit door, and an appointment would go down well with the supporters.

In the improbable event that Pochettino switches Spurs for Chelsea or Real Madrid, it goes without saying that Benitez would jump at the chance to manage in the Champions League again.

PSG have now appointed Thomas Tuchel so a move to the French capital is off the cards, but there’s soon to be a job going at Tuchel’s former club Borussia Dortmund, with Peter Stoger’s exit imminent. Benitez has worked in England, Spain and Italy, but never over in Germany, so this imminent new vacancy could well peak his interest.

Meanwhile, a return to Napoli can’t be completely ruled out given the uncertainty surrounding the club’s current incumbent Maurizio Sarri who is hotly linked with a move to Chelsea.

The Sack Race Verdict

Benitez will no doubt be tempted by the West Ham post, but while the owners tend to promise managers the world, the reality is they deliver very little. Two bosses have now been axed in the space of six months, and who’s to say the club won’t pull the trigger again in the near future?

Benitez would leave Newcastle for either North London club, but Arsenal look to have found their man in Mikel Arteta, while it’s difficult to see Pochettino leaving Tottenham this summer.

Benitez simply doesn’t want to be involved in another relegation scrap, and providing he’s offered the assurances he wants, he’ll stay at St James’ Park. For now.

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Laurent Banide
Laurent Banide
(Oldham Athletic)
19th September
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