Newcastle boss Steve Bruce hasn’t had much to smile about in recent months, and the announcement that ex-Magpies boss – and former king of the north – Rafael Benitez has left his post at Dalian Yifang will have done little to improve his mood.
Benitez has terminated his contract with the Chinese club despite having a year left to run on his £12m-per-year deal. The Spaniard has cited both his and his family’s well-being amid the coronavirus pandemic as the reason behind the decision.
The veteran tactician released a statement confirming his immediate exit from the club, with his coaching staff also following suit.
“Unfortunately, like so many things in the last year, COVID-19 has changed our lives and our projects. From today, both my coaching staff and I will sadly no longer be coaching Dalian,” he said in a statement as reported by Sky Sports.
“The pandemic is still here, for all of us, and supporting our families has been a priority when making this decision.”
Despite his premature exit from the club, Benitez believes the work he has done in his 18 months in China will stand the club in good stead going forward, and he hopes the ‘project’ he’s started will continue to develop following his departure.
“I’m convinced we have left a structure and a methodology that will allow the project to go ahead successfully,” he added.
“The first team has been rejuvenated and the foundations have been laid for the future, from the grassroots schools to the top.”
With Benitez now a free agent, speculation surrounding the future of Newcastle manager Bruce will only continue to intensify.
The Magpies are currently 15th in the Premier League table – seven points above the drop zone – however, a wretched run of nine games without a win in all competitions and some truly abject performances have seen swathes of the Newcastle fanbase grow frustrated with Bruce’s tenure.