Far be it for me to get involved in idle speculation, which is perhaps completely baseless, but what the hell, I have a pretty strong feeling that we’ll be seeing Rafa Benitez as the manager of West Ham United before the season is out; perhaps even before the end of 2017.
West Ham have a long held interest in him
First of all, Benitez and the East London club already have a great deal of history. In the summer of 2015, the Spaniard was hours away from joining the club as their manager, only to turn down their offer when Real Madrid came in to offer him the chance to take the helm at the Bernabeu.
West Ham ultimately went with Slaven Bilic and Benitez went on to have a miserable few months in Madrid. There has been, and still is, a clear interest in him from the owners at West Ham, as shown by their prolonged attempt to lure him back in 2015.
Bilic’s position is far from secure
The man who got the Hammers job two years ago is, of course, still there. However, there have certainly been a number of discontented rumblings coming from the club over the course of this year. Bilic’s first year saw their highest finish in 17 years and their highest goal tally in 30 years as they finished not too far outside the Champions’ League places.
Last season, though, was not as good, as the Irons went at least five games without a win on three occasions in the league. At one point, there was even talk of relegation before they went on to lose just once in the final seven matches.
Last week’s heavy defeat at Old Trafford will have brought questions back on Bilic’s future. Their performance was poor and their defence showed great ineptitude, which was not the first time under the Croatian.
With a new stadium helping to bring in greater revenue to the club, expectations will have been heightened at the club and there must be questions as to whether Bilic can meet them. Benitez would represent arguably a step up and would certainly improve their defensive record.
Will Benitez get frustrated at Newcastle?
Of course, the Spaniard is still employed at another Premier League club, with a fan-base that has clearly taken him to their heart. Benitez’s willingness to stick with the club in the Championship was rewarded by their immediate promotion, but one wonders if a man of his ambition wants to continue to operate within the restrictions placed upon him by Mike Ashley.
Numerous reports have come out that he is frustrated at the amount of money they’ve spent this summer, and there doesn’t seem to be too much likelihood of big spending anytime soon. Here is a man who sees himself as someone who should be participating in the Champions’ League.
Newcastle, for the moment, don’t seem like qualifying for that for a good while yet. West Ham would seemingly offer more money, a bigger transfer budget and the greater potential for the immediate future and their lure may end up being too strong if things go badly in the north-east.
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