I’m sure few Newcastle fans would have ever expected a manger of Rafael Benitez’ calibre to be at the helm of their club this season.
Newcastle United are one of England’s great clubs, but the last few seasons have provided little joy for supporters. Narrowly escaping relegation in the last game of the season last year, and part of a relegation scrap for most of this season, the fans in black and white have had little to cheer about.
With that it comes as a surprise to many that Benitez took the job. A Champions League and UEFA Cup winner joining the relegation battle at a club that has not won a trophy for over 40 years.
But I’m sure Rafa would not have signed the papers if he didn’t think he could save the club. He has confirmed that he has a break clause in his contract should Newcastle be relegated, but in his words: “I am trying to stay in the Premier League and if I have to compromise for the future, it’s because I am convinced that we will do well. I want to stay.”
It’s not going to be an easy task, but there are few managers you could argue are better positioned to do the job.
His way of playing is pretty solid and he has plenty of experience in the Premier League on his CV. His biggest enemy will be time, with just 9 games left to save the season.
Looking back on the game against Leicester you could see his presence had already made in impact – in the form of discipline.
And that’s what The Magpies need right now.
There we’re times this season that I was watching them and it looked like they were playing a friendly. The whole team would attack and sometimes it looked like the goalkeeper was the only player who didn’t push forward. I know you need goals to win games, but if you don’t have a good strategy, you’re lost.
This club has a great history, and it would be a huge loss for the Premier League if they were relegated (even though I’m sure they’d be back soon enough, but with this crazy game you never know). If they do avoid the drop, Rafa will have a good go at restoring the club to a level the fans expect.
I used to love playing at St James’ Park and I’m sure many other players would say the same thing. The fans always turn up and make it hard for you to win, and that passion is what football is all about.