In 2006, two years into his role as Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez was asked why he had put on so much weight since moving to England. Benitez responded immediately “every time I win a trophy I put on weight.” I’ve no evidence that story it is true but a quick search on Google backs it up that he did say those words, there’s just not a lot of context behind them bar the above. The most important aspect of this myth/story is the “trophies”. Raafa Benitez has won trophies. Loads of them. Rafa Benitez is now manager of Newcastle United, all being well, for the next three years at least. It’s yet to sink in.
La Liga (twice), the Champions League, the Europa League (twice), the FA Cup, the Coppa Italia (twice), the Italian Super Coppa (twice), the UEFA Super Cup (twice) and the FIFA Club World Cup. Benitez is the only manager in history to win all of the trophies open to a club manager – no other manager has won the Champions League, the Club World Cup, the Europa league and the Super Cup. No one else. Compare him to the other choices to replace Steve McClaren. Moyes? Pearson? Rodgers? The combined career’s of these managers doesn’t come close to our manager. I cannot believe he has agreed to join Newcastle United. the club of Sports Direct. The club of the banned Supporters Trust and journalists. The club of of Alan Pardew, John Carver, Joe Kinnear and Steve McClaren. Failed, desperate managers. Not Benitez.
The reason this appointment is so incredible is that Rafa Bennitez does not need Newcastle United. We need him, badly – whatever happens at NUFC Rafa Benitex will walk into another top job. He holds all the cards. No more Emmanuel Riviere turning up at the training ground at the manager not knowing who he was. No more making excuses for Mike Ashley. Rafa Benitez, if he keeps us up and Ashley cedes total control then all of our lives will change. St James’ park will become the arena where season tickets mean something. It will become the place you go to enjoy yourself, not out out of duty. Rafa benitez has won trophies at each of his last five clubs. He has never been relegated. He doesn’t do relegation scraps as some in the media are pointing. GOOD. THAT IS A GOOD THING. Rafa Benitez wins more than half the football matches his clubs take part in. Not one in 5 like the previous manager. Not like the managers with experience of countless relegation battles.
Most of all Benitez has given us hope. I left the Bournemouth game last week early. When we got one back, a horrible realisation dawned on me. I didn’t want us to equalise, we had to lose that game to ensure the manager was sacked. Awful for everybody. From that catastrophe something incredible has happened. I simply didn’t believe the rumours, the calculated leaks to the media. Even “if” (and what an ‘if’) Benitez was interested in a basket case like Newcastle United, surely those running the club would cock it up.
This is a great article from a great journalist which tells you everything you need to know – click here Benitez demands control. He’s taken the job at United and therefore he’s been granted control. I have no doubt that if backed properly, and we stay up, he will be one of the, if not the, most successful manager in the club’s modern history.
There’s the “if” again though. IF we stay up. That is now what the club, the fans and the city must know focus all energy on. SJP needs to bear at it’s loudest, radgest best for every single home game this season. Our away form is so wretched over the last two seasons that it will be hard for Benitez to turn water into wine in the short time he has and the fixtures we have away from home. It is the home games against the sides in the bottom half of the league that our future relies on. Maybe it’s too big a job even for a man like Rafa Benitez, but I back him over Alex Neil, Remi Garde and Sam Allardyce. I back him over Manuel Pelegrinni, Louis Van Gaal, Roberto Martinez, Alan Pardew, Mauricio Poccetino, Claudio Ranieri and any other manager in this league. He has archived more than all of these managers put together. Only Hiddink and Klopp can currently claim to come close to our manager. they don’t by the way – but at least a discussion can be had. Every single other manager in this league is a worse manager than benitez. That’s a fact.
Leicester away is simply the hardest start. If ONLY Rafa had been given Stoke and Bournemouth. This game is legitimately the hardest game in the league. Followed by the mackems and Norwich away it’s essential our new man hits the ground running. Taking an impromptu training session one hour into the job suggests Benitez knows what he has to do and the challenge he faces. At worst Leicester City will start Monday night 2 points clear at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand. If they didn’t play goal music I’d want them to win the league. I do really. It would be great for them to drop points on Monday night. I’m going. I touted going this week, and no one would come. Now there’s seven of us going, all absolutely buzzing.
Leicester have lost just once at home this season, back in September. They lost at home to Spurs in the cup. Their last two home games against Norwich and West Brom yielded 4 points, with their defence looking more shaky than usual, conceding plenty of chances. Yes I’m scrapping the barrel here. They are the best team in the league, we are the worst bar Vile. We have tons of injuries, they have very few. Krul, Haidara, Dummet, Mbemba are all definitely out. All first team players. Cisse, Colo, Townsend and Tiote are all doubts. That’s 9 first team players out for the new manager to deal with. Whether he risks the latter four or saves them for next weekend, only he will know.
The result against Leicester will likely not go our way. They are too good, we’ve too many of our better players missing. We don’t have a fit left back so it’s likely Colback will be moved to play there. What we’re hoping to see is a totally committed performance on the pitch from the players he has available. Against Evertom, Chelsea and Stoke (our last three away games) we didn’t look competitive or like getting anything from the games. I back the new manager to at least make us competitive.
Here is a documentary you should watch about our new manager and his career to date – click here
Let’s get excited
Prediction: 2 2 draw
ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892
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