Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez revealed clear problems that were facing the club this summer during a wide-ranging interview with the Chronicle, and it's a worst-case scenario read for Toon fans.
The last thing anyone on Tyneside wants to hear are the words "sell to buy" coming from the mouth of the manager.
Yet, that is the situation that Newcastle and Benitez now appear to find themselves in, and through no fault of the Spaniard himself.
For transfer window after transfer window, Benitez has pleaded with the board for the funds to support his project at Newcastle. He wants to turn the club into a major success, and is the calibre of manager that could achieve such a goal.
Unfortunately, those simple requests have fallen on deaf ears each time, and this summer appears to be no different.
During a sitdown interview at Carton House in Ireland, where Newcastle are currently undergoing a pre-season training camp, Benitez said about the need to sell to buy this summer: "It seems it is more or less like that. To manage the players who have value in the market and see if we can find some players at the right price."
Not giving Rafa Benitez just a half decent amount of money this summer is paramount to suicide - on the pitch, commercially and in general long term for #NUFC. Benitez has asked Ashley to match his ambition and it looks like he’s basically been told where to get off. (1/8)— Andrew Musgrove (@ADMusgrove) July 17, 2018
“It is not ideal but we will try to manage the best way possible. I was expecting maybe something different but we will manage what it going on and try to be sure that we bring the best players possible with the conditions we have, and try to improve the squad.”
Hearing those words, for every Newcastle fan, is once again hearing owner Mike Ashley twist the knife further into the heart of the fans and the club.
Ashley doesn't care about the club.
It's a business to him, and one he runs with little diligence or care. There is no desire to invest now, and reap rewards later.
Instead, the club is left to fend for itself and scrape along with whatever cheap signings it can make along the way.
Shows a total lack of respect to the fans but also a world class manager who has earned the respect of the footballing world. You have to question how naive Mike Ashley is to continue pushing Benitez. (2/8)— Andrew Musgrove (@ADMusgrove) July 17, 2018
So far this summer, Benitez has managed to get three players through the door - for a grand total sum of just £4m. As part of that frugal spending, it has seen a loan player from last season return (Kenedy), a free transfer (Ki Sung-Yeung) and a £4m permanent deal for another of last season's loanees (Martin Dubravka).
Kenedy and Dubravka are good signings, and hopefully Ki can find some good form under Benitez, but they're hardly signings to get excited about.
He either thinks Benitez can work a wonder again this season, looking at how others has strengthened, he can’t. Or he thinks what happened last season was an achievement that any John Smith could have achieved - again he’s wrong. (3/8)— Andrew Musgrove (@ADMusgrove) July 17, 2018
Worst of all, Benitez knows this.
During his interview, he pleaded with the fans not to get upset if signings Newcastle made looked uninspired. Statements like those have to get alarms bells ringing in fans' heads, certainly.
“There is another message for our fans: if anyone wants to criticise anyone of our players they have to realise, it is not that you are signing the first on your list, or the second, or the third."
It's not Benitez's fault, either, that those are the kinds of messages he's being forced to send out.
He's at a complete loss as to where the money the club has made is, and why it's not available to him.
Benitez’s presence and name carries weight both in football and commercially - another thing United are playing catch-up in. Lose Benitez, you lose more than just a manager. You’ll lose players, coaching staff and a fair few fans. (5/8)— Andrew Musgrove (@ADMusgrove) July 17, 2018
For transfer window after transfer window, the Spaniard has had to scrape by - signing the likes of Joselu and Javi Manquillo last season for a combined £7.5m - but this summer seems set to be one of the worst.
The club made £123m-plus from the Premier League last season, as well as being due a £50m lump-sum payment this month. Neither appear to have been put back into the club, with the manager unaware of where the money has disappeared to - much to his frustration.
Benitez said when asked by the Chronicle why the transfer kitty was so small: “I have to just concentrate on bringing the best players for the squad.
“I don’t do the numbers. I don’t control the numbers. I know my numbers, but it is not my job to do accounts. The owner decides the money available and that is it.
“Mike said ‘every last penny’ was available in the Press [in May]. I don’t do the numbers, so I don’t know exactly what it means.
“We are fine in terms of profit. Maybe you have to ask this question to [managing director] Lee Charnley. He has the numbers.”
It's concerning and unhelpful talk that will fill Newcastle fans with little feeling but dread. Newcastle fans are being made to watch a world-class manager being driven away from their club on frustration alone.
Earlier in the summer, Charnley actually claimed the club had "backed" Benitez in the past - though the fans and manager alike would probably disagree - and would do so again this summer.
Benitez embodied the fans' voice with his not-so-cryptic response to the question of whether he thought he had been backed this summer: “I am trying to do my best in these conditions, that’s what I can say."
It's a disgrace the way the former Champions League-winning manager is being treated by the Newcastle board, and it hurts fans to have to stand by and watch their club do this to a man who believes so strongly in turning their fortunes around.
Benitez wants to make the Magpies a top side, and he has the plan and managerial know-how to do so - if only he'd get some backing from the board.
What this interview has told fans, though, is that such a situation appears likely to never happen.
A man who has openly admitted he’d happily stay for 10 years and yet MA just continues to let the club stagnate. We’ve seen what happens (twice) when he goes against the sensible decision - and it’ll happen again, and be much more costly this time around. #NUFC (8/8)— Andrew Musgrove (@ADMusgrove) July 17, 2018
For reasons no rational person will likely ever understand, Newcastle's board seem intent on further frustrating Benitez until he finally breaks and leaves.
Then who knows where Newcastle will end up.