Rafael Benítez has lost virtually all trust in Mike Ashley’s regime at Newcastle United and, no longer regarding his job as a long-term project, would be receptive to alternative offers of employment at similarly sized Premier League clubs. Although Newcastle’s manager will not walk out in the wake of a disastrous transfer window, Benítez is angry, deeply frustrated and ready to contemplate life away from Tyneside. He came extremely close to taking over at West Ham two years ago, only for the mooted deal to be hijacked by Real Madrid at the 11th hour, but remains much admired by the London Stadium board. With Slaven Bilic under considerable pressure at West Ham, it is not inconceivable the post could shortly become vacant. Were this to happen Benítez would seriously consider relocating to London – although Ashley would be expected to fight hard to keep him at St James’ Park. A clause in the 57-year-old’s contract stipulates that either Newcastle’s manager or the club seeking to employ him must pay £5m‑6m to trigger his release, and Ashley would be expected to play hardball over exit negotiations. With the Sports Direct owner likely to force Benítez to resign rather than offer a rival club permission to speak to him, any departure is likely to prove anything but straightforward.