Shearer slams Newcastle 'shambles' as players & fans hail Benitez
Newcastle United great Alan Shearer led an angry response to the announcement Rafael Benitez is leaving the club after three years in charge.
Benitez, who joined Newcastle in 2016 and was a popular figure at St James' Park, will depart Tyneside on Sunday having failed to agree an extension to his expiring three-year deal.
The former Liverpool boss had repeatedly bemoaned a lack of freedom in the transfer market and, despite suggesting he planned to stay, reportedly rejected terms on a one-year contract.
Newcastle's controversial owner Mike Ashley has angered supporters in the past, having renamed the stadium and played a role in the departure of club icon Kevin Keegan.
And record goalscorer Shearer, who similarly left as manager in 2009 when a new deal was not agreed, appeared to blame Ashley as he reacted to the news on Twitter.
"A world class manager. A manager who performed so well in very difficult circumstances. A manager who understood the fans," he wrote.
"Thanks and good luck @rafabenitezweb you were brilliant for the Toon. #SHAMBLES"
A world class manager. A manager who performed so well in very difficult circumstances. A manager who understood the fans. Thanks and good luck @rafabenitezweb you were brilliant for the Toon. #SHAMBLES— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) June 24, 2019
Television personalities Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly – renowned Newcastle fans – also weighed in on their joint page.
"Disastrous," they wrote. "Those 'at the top' of our great club should be ashamed. The great shame is that they won't be.
"The way they are repeatedly able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is astonishing. Thank you @rafabenitezweb. Mike Ashley – get out of OUR club."
Meanwhile, Benitez's Newcastle players posted their thanks to the manager, with captain Jamaal Lascelles, top-scorer Ayoze Perez, midfielder Isaac Hayden and departing loan star Salomon Rondon among them.
"I’m saddened to hear about the departure of the gaffa," Lascelles wrote. "It's a huge honour that I've captained this side with him as the manager. I'll be forever grateful for the trust and opportunity he gave me. Thanks boss."
I’m saddened to hear about the departure of the gaffa. It’s a huge honour that I’ve captained this side with him as the manager. I’ll be forever grateful for the trust and opportunity he gave me. Thanks boss pic.twitter.com/S1FUWOGDMM— Jamaal Lascelles (@Lascelles16) June 24, 2019
Perez added: "Thank you Rafa for all these years at Newcastle and good luck in the future! You are a top manager."
Hayden said: "Thank you for everything over the last 3 years, you brought me to the club and had the faith in me to develop me as a player and person. It won’t be forgotten. All the best for the future! @rafabenitezweb #NUFC"
And Rondon, whose loan deal from West Brom is also expiring, posted: "I must say that @rafabenitezweb deserves huge credit for what our team achieved last season, and I'm sure he'll have success in his next job. All the best, gaffer!"
Benitez has been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League with Dalian Yifang, while a number of names are reported options for the Magpies – including Anthony Hudson and Avram Grant.