What's the story?
Weeks after Rafa Benitez departed St. James' Park, controversial Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has accused the Spanish manager of always putting his financial interests ahead of the club's.
In case you didn't know...
Benitez, who was in charge of the Magpies from 2016, left the club to take over Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Yifang for a deal that will reportedly see him earn a staggering £12 million per year.
The former Liverpool manager's contract with Newcastle expired earlier this summer but he was unable to agree to a new deal with the club, citing differences in vision as one of the key reasons for his exit.
Shortly after his announcement, the 59-year-old released an emotional letter of gratitude to fans while explaining the reasons for his departure.
In the letter, Benitez claimed that the club's hierarchy did not share the same vision for the club. While the former were keen on simply extending his contract, the Spaniard wanted to be a part of a bigger project. He further highlighted that some resources should have been made available for him to improve the club's standings in the Premier League.
Newcastle fans, who were already frustrated with the club's ownership, were far from happy with the exit and staged several protests threatening to cancel their season tickets.
The heart of the matter
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Ashley has accused Benitez of being money-oriented and claimed the manager put his finances ahead of the club's interests in contrast to the explanation he gave his fans in his public letter.
He said, "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. 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. He had the microphone and we didn't."
He added, "I'm not disappointed in him as a manager - he did an excellent job. It puzzles me why any fan thinks I wouldn't want him."
"I'm not the thickest person on the planet. Why wouldn't I want excellence? Why wouldn't I want this manager? Accuse me of many things, but not that. We couldn't have done any more."
Steve Bruce is set to take over the reins at Newcastle next season after signing a three-year deal following a brief stint at Sheffield Wednesday.Published 27 Jul 2019, 14:28 IST