According to an exclusive report in The Mirror, Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez is at the top of West Ham United’s four-man shortlist as they start their search for a replacement for David Moyes, but Magpies fans believe it is all part of a plan from the 58-year-old Spaniard.
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss is keen to be backed by owner Mike Ashley in the transfer market this summer, in order to help the club progress following an impressive 10th-place finish in their first season back in the Premier League.
The interest from the east London outfit may well force Ashley to act and give the 5ft 9in tall chief what he wants, and that is what the St James’ Park faithful will be demanding too given Benitez has become such a huge fans’ favourite over the course of the last two years.
Newcastle supporters, who are growing tired with links to a striker who has scored 34 goals this season, were quick to have their say on the Benitez to West Ham rumours via social media, and while one said “talks haven’t progressed enough so he’s taking action”, another said it’s “Rafa being very clever and playing Ashley through the media, in order to get what he wants”.
Here is just a selection of the Twitter reaction…
I reckon this has come from Benitez’ side to strengthen his hand.
— This Dave (@ThisDave) May 17, 2018
As a Newcastle Fan I want Benitez to use West Ham to give Ashley an ultimatum. Give a big budget or sell the club… or I’m out! Ashley would have to accept his demands or the fans would revolt and the value of the club would drop, then he’d have no club to sell! #bbcfootball
— Andrew (@churchedguy) May 17, 2018
Very much hoping that the Rafa Benitez West Ham rumours are just his way of securing proper investment and holding Ashley to account #nufc
— Rory Brown (@RoryBrown) May 17, 2018
U cud be right with the agent thing but it cud also be a ploy to get Ashley to deliver promises now instead of Rafa having to fight for anything & ending up with last min bargains. It worked when we went down. Plus if Ashley wants to sell the club, Benitez is his selling point
— Mark Turnbull (@marky1803) May 17, 2018
West Ham coming for Benitez could actually be a blessing. It might force Ashley to move quicker & give Rafa what he wants! #nufc
— Luke Middlemiss (@LukeMidd1) May 16, 2018
Rafa is a clever man. Talks haven't progressed quickly enough so he's taking action. He's not got any intention to join West Ham IMO, he's just going to make it look that way in a bid to force Ashley into action.
The key will be how Ashley responds. If he doesn't then who knows.
— Black&WhiteBarmy (@BlackWhiteBarmy) May 17, 2018
Also can’t look past it being Rafa being very clever and playing Ashley through the media, in order to get what he wants. He’s a clever bloke.
He’s been whinging for money for months, this might be him giving MA a kick up the arse?
— Benjiboo_42 (@Benjiboo_42) May 16, 2018