According to The Daily Telegraph, there is no length to which Newcastle United will not go in order to keep manager Rafa Benitez, even if they’re relegated.
The Spaniard has a clause in his contract allowing him to walk away from St James’ Park should he fail to keep the club in the Premier League, but even if their worst fears are realised, Mike Ashley’s minions, perhaps even the man himself, will all get down on their hands and knees in a shameless abandonment of self worth and beg Benitez to stay.
Stepping into the skirmish that is the Championship, an almighty competitive division which Newcastle are by no means guaranteed to return from immediately, may not strike as the most appealing proposition for such a decorated manager, but there are factors aside from his impossibly large salary that would make remaining on Tyneside worth his while.
Upon their 2008/09 relegation from the top-flight the Toon retained the bulk of their best players ahead of their tilt at promotion. Steely English midfielders in Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan, along with the goalscoring prowess of powerful striker Andy Carroll, enabled them to win the league with ease under Chris Hughton.
In Jonjo Shelvey, Andros Townsend and Aleksandar Mitrovic, they currently have three players on long-term contracts who could help emulate the heroics of the glorious second-tier Newcastle team of 2009/10.
A transfer war chest would be paramount in keeping Benitez, meaning he could arm his already well-resourced squad with yet more assets over-qualified for Championship soccer.
Combining quality players with his own obvious ability in the dug out, plenty will fancy the Magpies’ chances of promotion in 2016/17.
If they achieve it, they’ll return to the Premier League in a similar position to 2010/11, where they cruised to survival ahead of snaring an unanticipated fifth the following season under Alan Pardew.
While Pardew was only able to achieve a string of lower mid-table finishes in the years that followed, much to the chagrin of the supporters, Benitez’s managerial prowess will ensure they’re better placed to retain a spot in the division’s upper echelons.
So if the Spanish supremo is interested in playing the long game, sticking around at Newcastle may not be the worst idea.