Rafael Benitez has pinpointed Newcastle owner Mike Ashley’s vision for the club as the reason his three-year reign in charge of the Magpies came to an end last week.
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager was a hugely popular figure among the supporters on Tyneside after leading the club to promotion in his first full season and stabilising Newcastle in the Premier League over the past two years.
However, Newcastle announced last week that no agreement between the parties had been reached to extend Benitez’s contract despite talks over a “significant period of time”.
Benitez had not hidden his displeasure at the lack of backing he was afforded by Ashley and was believed to be seeking assurances over the budget he would have to work with before committing his future to the club.
“I wanted to stay, but I didn’t just want to sign an extended contract, I wanted to be part of a project,” Benitez said in an open letter to the Newcastle fans.
“It became increasingly clear to me that those at the top of the club did not share the same vision.
“I’m very sad about that, but I do not regret for one moment my decision to come to Tyneside and I’m very proud about what we achieved together.”
Benitez’s departure has sparked more anger among the Newcastle support towards Ashley, who has owned the club since 2007, with many fans posting on social media that they will not renew their season tickets.