Since Mike Ashley purchased Newcastle United in 2007, 7 managers have been through the doors of St James Park. The latest, Rafa Benitez, has worked miracles under notoriously difficult circumstances.
How has the Spaniard managed this?
Benitez joined the Magpies in March 2016 in a bid to save the northeast Giants from relegation, unable to do so, the club dropped into the Championship. The caliber of a manager such as Benitez would be rarely seen in the championship so most fans feared the worst and expected him to leave, but he agreed to stay and guide the Toon back to the Premier League, which he managed to do on his first attempt by winning the league. Last season, Benitez managed to get the newly promoted side to a respectable 10th place.
All this has been done whilst the club has been subject to take-over talks with Mike Ashley being reluctant to inject sufficient funding into the club for the transferring of players. Benitez has been agitated by Ashley and supporters fear the owner will drive the Spaniard away from St James Park. Rafa has become a cult figure at the club in a short space of time and the fans are passionate supporters of him.
Benitez has had to use every trick in his managerial book to get Newcastle to where they are. While in the championship he signed Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie, experienced championship players, to help get the club promoted. These signings proved pivotal in getting the job done. Benitez has made the most out of the players he had. Players like Paul Dummett, Jamal Lascelles, and Jonjo Shelvey are all better after having Benitez coach them. His man management and organizational brilliance have seen Newcastle become resolute and difficult to beat, something that has helped the Toon gain valuable points in tight games. Rafa Benitez’ family still lives in the North and Benitez is still very fond of the area, this gives him added incentive to stay when Ashley’s off-field antics threaten to force him away. Other managers may have cut their losses but Benitez’ patience has been a virtue.
Always known for his tactical brilliance at previous clubs including Valencia, Liverpool, Napoli, and Real Madrid, Benitez has shown he hasn’t lost the knack for the right tactics at the right time. The fans know how important Rafa is in getting the club back to where they feel it should be, challenging within the Premier League. The mood around the club has been lifted, the players and the fans are more optimistic and confident, helping to give that extra boost for the team to perform at a higher level.
When you’re not given the money to challenge and progress you need something else and Benitez has given everything he has to get Newcastle performing despite Mike Ashley hampering the club’s ambition.
Wayne Edge @oasis1711