What are the pros and cons for Rafa Benitez as he mulls over his Newcastle future?

Ex-Real Madrid, Liverpool and Valencia boss appears torn over his next move

Rafa Benitez, Newcastle,

Picture by: Clive Gee / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Since Rafa Benitez left Liverpool in 2010, the Spanish manager has now been in charge of five clubs. 

But aside from his early days at Napoli and his current position at Newcastle, when has he truly been accepted or made to feel in charge?

His return home to Real Madrid proved to be a nightmare, succeeding Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan was disastrous and Chelsea fans never took to him in his "interim" role in 2012-13 due to his past clashes with them as a Liverpool manager.

At Newcastle, however, the supporters have already appreciated his efforts even though he was ultimately appointed too late to inspire an escape from relegation this season.

Pros 

With Newcastle at a low ebb and fans on his side for now, there is an opportunity for Benitez to settle and try to build his own project and team in his own image.

That is something he was not afforded at Real Madrid, for example, as president Florentino Perez called the shots.

He holds all the aces in negotiations given that Newcastle appear to want to keep him at St James Park. If he can press his claim to exert greater influence over transfer policy, he will have what most managers crave: Control.

Also despite Newcastle's ability to not only flirt but end up married to instability, the North East club remain a big club who still attract an average of 48,000 people through the turnstiles, which is among the top 5 in the Premier League.

As he has already indicated, the warmth directed towards him from a long-suffering fanbase is one of the key factors which have left him seriously considering staying on.

"I'm really happy with the reaction of the fans. I'm really impressed with them. That's it. Tomorrow they will show their appreciation and we will try to do well for them," he said ahead of the final 5-1 thrashing of high-flying Tottenham yesterday.

 

Mike Ashley

"That is the reason why I'm sitting here and considering the future in a very positive way and an open mind. We have to wait until this conversation next week."

At the age of 56, a club of that size and the opportunity to build one last project could well be attractive.

Additionally, lest we forget, his family still reside in the UK, around the Merseyside area, even when he was managing at Napoli and Real Madrid, which makes a stay at Newcastle or a move to another Premier League club all the more attractive for him.

In the short-term, there don't seem to be a huge number of viable jobs heading into next season's Premier League unless he decided to put himself forward for the enticing Everton job. But that would be a nuclear option based on his Liverpool past.

Cons

Life in the second tier is not something he will have envisaged among his ambitions, especially with his background of European trophy success and management of some of the world's biggest clubs.

The Championship is a tough ultra-competitive league that is not often kind to the big name clubs and there is a risk to Benitez's reputation if disaster strikes and they were to make a slow start or miss out on promotion altogether.

Newcastle's squad has undoubted talent but the fact that they were relegated from the Premier League this season says something about the mentality and holes in the panel.

There were question marks over commitment as the Magpies struggled and it will be interesting to see how many of their bigger names will want to stay and fight for immediate promotion. Unlike last time they went down in 2009, there are few warriors in the Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan or Alan Smith mould.

And there is the instability factor. Newcastle have had about one good season in the past decade, but drama is never far from the surface.

The future of owner Mike Ashley, whose relationship with the fans is tense at best, is a factor. If he stays, his decision-making has not had a habit of being entirely fool-proof and if he goes at some point in the next year, changes at the top will impact whoever is first-team manager at the time.

Relegation means spending will be reined in to a degree naturally, but Ashley has shown a propensity to spend again in the past few transfer windows and if that trend continues, the financial backing may well be enough to entice Benitez to stay for the long haul.

Whatever pros and cons, he has to weigh up though, the fans at least see him as a bona fide pro.