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Exclusive: McDermott warns Newcastle owner Ashley: Please Rafa or risk chaos

Terry McDermott has warned Newcastle owner Mike Ashley he could leave the club in "chaos" if he doesn't re-sign Rafa Benitez.

The Spaniard has expressed a desire to extend his current deal, which expires at the end of next season. However, Benitez has reservations about how much money he will be granted in the summer, and without certain assurances, it is likely the former Liverpool boss will walk.

McDermott knows all too well about Ashley and his relationship with his managers. The former Magpies and Liverpool midfielder spent a season-and-a-half as an assistant under Ashley's ownership, working alongside Sam Allardyce and Kevin Keegan.

The latter - also a club legend and close friend of McDermott's - found it unbearable to work under Ashley's recruitment plan, which saw the Magpies sign players without his consent.

And although the structure has changed, McDermott believes Ashley could plunge Newcastle into disarray if he loses a manager of Benitez's stature.

Asked by Tribalfootball if the Toon would have survived in the Premier League this season without Benitez, McDermott replied: "No, I think for certain they would have gone down.

"He's been a revelation but we already knew that. He's been outstanding and I'm delighted that he's stayed. He could have easily left at the start of last season because he's had promises that weren't kept.

"I would hope that he stays for another two, three, four years. That means that he will get to do what he wants to do with the club. You've always got to have one person who makes big decisions and that's the manager.

"I'm a bit frightened he might leave and it'll be chaos if he leaves. I hope that he gets the players that he wants and then he's happy. It's a big job at St. James' [Park], we know that but if there's anyone to sort it out it's him. So I hope they give him the funds to be able to do that."

Ashley allowed Benitez to spend £35.37m on players last summer, good for fourth lowest in the league.

Toon fans rejoiced earlier this season when Ashley declared his intent to sell the club before Christmas. A takeover bid from PCP Capital Partners - whose Middle East investors are represented by Amanda Staveley, a key broker in Sheikh Mansour's takeover of Manchester City - furthered the sense of optimism on Tyneside.

That was until Ashley, who is reportedly worth £3.8bn, rejected PCP's bid of £250m, which would have made him a significant profit on the £134 million he paid for Newcastle in 2007.

On Ashley, McDermott added: "I think he's (Ashley) proved that he wants to sell the club but I don't know, he hasn't been to games which tells you a lot. He might be too busy, but I don't think that's the case because he always came to the games.

"So he has told everyone that he wanted it sold by last Christmas and that never happened. If he stays and he backs Rafa, not a problem, but if he doesn't, I don't think Rafa will stay much longer."

While the board situation represents instability, Benitez has been able to secure Premier League football for another season with a squad filled predominantly with players he used in the Championship last term.

Aspirations of pushing into the top-six may be a pipe dream under Ashley's ownership. But with a club the size of Newcastle, with their ardent but silverware starved fanbase, McDermott believes an injection of serious talent, amalgamated with Benitez's management nous could spell success.

Asked if Newcastle could break into the top-six, McDermott continued: "That's asking a lot for a first season but with Rafa being there and bringing the right players in and getting the money to go and bring the quality players in. Playing in this big league you've got to have quality players and we've got some good players, we just need a little bit of old stardust.

"And I think if he brings in 4 or 5 players of quality, you could to look around finishing 10th to 8th and look the build from there.

"It's a massive club, people don't realise the fans, there's 52,000 there every week, even when they're playing badly or getting bad results.

"They're a fantastic club and people are lucky to have had an opportunity to play for those fans. It's going to be long hard season or two before they've got a chance of getting in the top six, but that takes time. It's not going to happen overnight."



You can read about Terry McDermott's incredible life and career in his biography, Terry Mac: Living For The Moment - My Autobiography, which can be bought by clicking on this link - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Terry-Mac-Living-Moment-Autobiography/dp/1910335584.

You can follow Andrew Maclean on Twitter: @andrewmaclean30

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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