Newcastle were a club on its knees, stalled and had no direction before Benitez brightened the corridors with his smile. Many have tried and failed to successfully manage this great club, those who failed have one thing in common – They did not understand Newcastle United, the fans and what the club means. Very few managers have ‘got it’, Benitez is on that short list of managers that includes the likes of Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson.
Young, hungry and with a point to prove. That is exactly what you think when looking at Newcastle’s squad for the coming season. It is in stark contrast to previous sides during the post Sir Bobby Robson period. Rafael Benitez is creating a squad full of players that actually want to be at this club.
Newcastle have operated on the opposite scale, signing big ego’s for big money. The result, usually ending in failure. Benitez understands that you do not need a team filled with big names to succeed. Teamwork, a sense of unity, determination and fight can also prevail. Leicester City epitomised that statement during the 15/16 season.
A sense of realism goes a long way, Newcastle have just been promoted and the club missed out on the money from the Premier League TV deal. As a result the club are operating in a different market to many of the sides in the Premier League. Some players may have a decent price tag, but the wages are ridiculous. Javier Hernandez being a prime example, who on the face of it looked affordable, however his wages would have been a real stumbling block for Newcastle.
Having a squad of players that are determined to succeed at Newcastle is refreshing, it will also go a long way to guiding the club to safety next season. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, safety is the main objective next season. It is about improving and moving forward each season, Newcastle need to become a stable force in the Premier League once again.
The signings Benitez has made so far this summer, show that he is on the lookout for not only quality but the right characters that fit in perfectly with the squad. It is vital that a new arrival does not disrupt the sense of unity this team has. Newcastle United is like a jigsaw puzzle to Benitez, and at the moment he is trying to find the missing pieces.
Newcastle now have a good core of British players, the club have moved on from the French bargains that were very much hit or miss. The club would delve into the French market hoping and praying for another Cabaye, only to be disappointed with a Riviere. Benitez is meticulous, he knows exactly what he needs. The chances of signing another Riviere are thankfully very slim under the Spaniards guidance.
Newcastle are in good shape ahead of the new season, undoubtedly there is still work to be done on transfers. A few more players need to be added, as well as shifting the deadwood that has plagued this club for so long. Furthermore, there are far more leaders in the dressing room, players who will speak up when things aren’t right. Something that was needed in the 15/16 season, with only Jamaal Lascelles making his voice heard.
The future is bright for Newcastle as long as Benitez is in charge. This is not another false dawn, patience is needed but success will come.
GRAEME BELL – FOLLOW GRAEME ON @GraemeBell_NUFC