Punching above their weight in the league table but below the belt in last summer's transfer window, many believed Rafa Benitez might not last long as manager of Newcastle, given his credentials and coaching pedigree.
However, with takeover talks on the horizon and highly criticised owner Mike Ashley looking to sell the club, former midfielder Joey Barton alleged on TalkSport, via reports from Chronicle Live, that the ex-Real Madrid coach could remain with the Magpies for the foreseeable future.
“I know he was close to it (leaving)," said Talksport pundit Barton. “But the fact Newcastle looks like it’s about to be sold, if you were going to buy Newcastle you’d be wise to say ‘sit tight and we’ll give you x amount of money when we come in’".
“I can’t see Rafa budging.”
Knowing a thing or two about the club after spending four seasons at St James' Park, creating a number of headlines himself as a combative midfielder, his sources might be well placed within the club to gain genuine insight into the position of Benitez.
With managerial spells at the likes of Liverpool, Real Madrid, Napoli and Valencia, where he has been influential and proved many times his tactical capabilities, Newcastle will be hoping to keep hold of the 57-year-old coach.
However, his commitment to the club could depend on how he is backed in the transfer window in January. For now, sitting in 14th place, they are exceeding expectations with a small and in-experienced squad.
As reports suggest Amanda Staveley and her Middle East investment fund could buy out Ashley's stake in the club, Benitez is allegedly planning transfer targets to turn the club's season around after a recent drop in form, winning only one game in their last six.