Newcastle United striking-royalty Alan Shearer has stated his concerns regarding the future relationship of Rafa Benitez and the Magpies.
The 57-year-old Spaniard recently secured the north east side’s top-flight status for next season, and has the chance to clinch his first silverware on Tyneside when the Toon Army face Barnsley at St James’ Park on Sunday – depending on league leaders Brighton and Hove Albion’s fairing away to Aston Villa.
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But following the clinch of their promotion, the ex-Real Madrid boss refused to commit his future to the Geordies, and the all-time Premier League goal-scorer believes this could be due to the hierarchical leadership within the club.
“Newcastle are at a crossroads and I’m not convinced Mike Ashley will take the right turn,” Shearer wrote in his column in The Sun.
“What evidence is there that he is going to change now? He clearly acceded to some of Rafa Benitez’s demands last summer, which is why he stayed on to get Newcastle back up…but it is a different ball game now.
“As soon as promotion was confirmed and Rafa refused to commit his future to Tyneside, I had to worry.
“Quite simply, he needs about eight new players just to turn Newcastle into a mid-table Premier League team.
“Benitez won’t want to go into next season knowing he has a squad only good enough for a relegation scrap. He won’t have it.
“There is a huge opportunity here for Newcastle to establish themselves again as a top-flight force. But he now needs, at the minimum, a £150million investment in new players.
“And I am not convinced that will happen.”
Newcastle owner Ashley has been criticised in the past by the St James’ Park faithful for limited spending, which the 52,000 that consistently pack-out the city-centre stadium believe was a major factor in their demise 12 months year ago.
However, over the previous two seasons the 52-year-old business tycoon has piled over £145 million into transfers alone – £10m more than he paid for the entirety of the club in 2007.
It is therefore not difficult to understand why the retail entrepreneur may be skeptical in parting with more money.
However, without funds to the amount Shearer suggested or similar, the north east club may suffer the fate of relegation yet again come the conclusion of the next campaign.