Celtic and Newcastle-linked Rafa Benitez ‘damaged his credibility’ in China and shouldn’t be touted for jobs at top clubs, insists Simon Jordan
Rafael Benitez should not be a contender for top jobs after returning from his spell in China, which ‘damaged his credibility’ as a manager.
That’s according to Simon Jordan, who has questioned reports touting the ‘Spanish waiter’ as a favourite for the Celtic and Newcastle roles.
Benitez is back in Europe and on the hunt for his next job after terminating his contract and ending his spell in the Chinese Super League.
The former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid manager signed a lucrative contract with Dalian Professional, worth a reported £12million-a-year, after he left Newcastle in 2019.
But the experienced coach has decided to end his spell in China, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as his main reason for wanting to return home.
Soon after news of his Dalian exit, Benitez was quickly linked with a number of clubs – including Celtic and a possible return to St James’ Park.
The 60-year-old has been installed as the number one favourite for the Celtic Park job with current boss Neil Lennon under-fire amid a disastrous season for the Scottish Premiership champions.
Many Magpies fans are also keen for the Spaniard to return and replace Steve Bruce, with the Toon Army losing patience amid a run of 11 games without victory.
But Jordan believes the manager – whom he claims is ‘only about one thing: himself’ – damaged his reputation by accepting a big-money contract in China, and shouldn’t be chased by top clubs now he’s available again.
“Rafa Benitez is a very decent manager and at times has been an excellent manager, and I suspect he’s waiting in the wings for an opportunity.
“I’m an admirer of certain aspects of Benitez, because clearly he can put a team together and work at certain levels, otherwise you wouldn’t get to manage teams like Real Madrid.
“But I’m not a huge admirer of the way he presents himself to the media and the way he utilised the media to impact messages.
“There’s this notion that he was all for Newcastle… but Rafa Benitez is one of those managers who is only about one thing: himself. It’s all about Rafa Benitez, Rafa Benitez, Rafa Benitez.
“The notion that he was in it for Newcastle I think is nonsense, I think Rafa Benitez was in it for himself, he wanted the best opportunity and he got a hefty salary from the ‘Devil incarnate’ Mike Ashley.
“Then he made that move to China, which had no football integrity behind it.
“If you’re an elite manager, which Benitez thinks he is, and you believe you should be at a club befitting of that, then you wouldn’t go to China. You go to China to get paid.
“I don’t begrudge people getting paid, everyone has a choice and a life to lead, but if we’re talking about meritocracy and ability, you don’t go to China to get paid, you stay in amongst the elite and you stamp your claim to be an elite manager.
“So coming back to British football, where would I see him potentially landing? Who knows.
“But I think he diminished his credibility by going to China, and I think he diminished his credibility in the eyes of certain owners over some of his conduct at Newcastle.
“And he didn’t land at Newcastle because his career was in ascendancy, he landed at Newcastle because he was on a downward spiral.
“It was a club relegated from the Premier League and in the Championship, he was out of Real Madrid because he couldn’t cut it at that level, was challenged at Napoli and then went to Newcastle.
“We’ll see, back he’ll come, the Spanish waiter, with all the sentiment to go around him and people will be saying he should be shoehorned into a job.
“But I can see him maybe landing at places like Wolves, if the tarnish really comes on Nuno Espirito Santo.”