Ashley Back Seat Driver?

Last updated : 10 July 2019 By Footy Mad - Editor

Although many fans felt Mike Ashley had control over some of the previous United managers, by insisting they put cup competitions to the back of their "wanted list", that doesn't seem to be the case with Rafa.

Rafa hardly spoke to Ashley in the three years he was manager.

Although he was accused of being "too involved" with the likes of Kevin Keegan, Wally with the brolly, Pardew and Joe Kinnear ... Rafa now says Ashley wasn't involved enough!

Rafa Benitez has further highlighted how his relationship with the Newcastle United hierarchy deteriorated - by insisting that he has already held more meetings with the powers that be at Dalian Yifang inside a week than he did across more than three years at St James' Park.

The 59-year-old took charge at the Chinese Super League club just two days after his Magpies contract expired, and his side defeated Henan Jianye in his first match at the helm last Sunday.

In a blog post reflecting upon his first week in East Asia, Benitez claims to have held "more meetings" with chairman Zhang Lin and billionaire owner Wang Jialin over the course of the past week than he had during his entire "three years at Newcastle".

While Benitez enjoyed a positive relationship with Lee Charnley during his first two years on Tyneside - speaking almost daily with the Magpies managing director - he only met with owner Mike Ashley on a handful of occasions.

By the end of his Newcastle tenure, the trust between Benitez and the United hierarchy had eroded to such an extent that they could not agree upon an extension to his contract, despite both parties insisting they wanted the Spaniard to stay on Tyneside.

In a series of interviews since departing the North East, Benitez has attempted to explain his decision to move to China by stressing that he is keen to work under Wang - who is worth a reported £17billion - and at a club who hold ambitions to strive for success, something Newcastle were unable to convince him they did as well.

"Since the moment of our arrival we have really been touched by the kindness and respect that we have been shown," Benitez writes in his blog on his own website.

"Our hosts have treated us with great consideration and are always keen to make us happy. As we all know from experience, in football, just as in everyday life, when people show you respect and affection and do everything they can to make things easier for you, life is much happier, even when you face difficult moments.

"I must say that I have had more meetings with the chairman, the president and the general manager this week than I had in three years at Newcastle."