While there is no way to know for certain, one would assume that Newcastle United would be in a far more perilous position had Rafael Benitez not been their manager for the last three years.
The Champions League winning boss has done an incredible job on a meagre budget at St James' Park, keeping his side well clear of relegation in the last two Premier League campaigns. He is held in very high regard by the Newcastle supporters as a result.
With his contract set to expire in the coming days, they had hoped that the Spaniard would sign on the dotted line to extend his stay in the North-East of England. Benitez shared a similar wish, although he would not do so without certain assurances from Mike Ashley about the finances he would have available to him.
It appears that such assurances are not forthcoming. The Northern Echo are reporting that Mike Ashley is refusing to up the financial offer made to Benitez in May, pushing him towards the exit door.
Benitez had been promised a £50million transfer budget for the summer window, but it has since emerged that offer came with some caveats. Any loan fees, wages, agent fees would also be withdrawn from that £50million fund, drastically lowering the amount available for actual transfer fees.
Hardly a king's ransom, and definitely not enough for the manager to make any sort of impact in the transfer market. With the club's owner unwilling to up his offer, you could hardly blame him for walking away.
WMike Ashley is actively looking to sell the club, meaning he is unwilling to invest major funds into the playing squad. Considering all of these circumstances, Benitez's exit is now beginning to look inevitable.
The former Liverpool manager has a £12million per year offer on the table from Chinese Club Dalian Yifang, but the Northern Echo claim he would prefer to stay in England if he does leave Newcastle.
While Newcastle supporters could hardly have a lower opinion of their current owner, this latest development is unlikely to go down well.