Things did not look good on Thursday night with the last bit of news that evening being that Newcastle had told local reporters the recent announcement by Sky Sports that Steve McClaren had been fired was not true.
So we had the amazing situation that McClaren had taken the training the last three days and was still in the head coach job, even though he had lost five of the last six games and the team last Saturday against Bournemouth were nothing less than a complete disgrace to the club.
The mess Charnley got us into last week is also why other (better run) clubs fire their managers first and then go after a new manager – there´s no need to wait until another manager is lined up – no need at all.
Lee Charnley was moving at his usual pace – slightly less than a snail moves on a good day – and he had seemed to have still made no decisions on anything.
Lee Charnley and Rafa Benitez yesterday
What was happening behind the scenes however was that Rafa Benitez had asked for and received several assurances and at some time on Thursday night Rafa got the go ahead to come to Newcastle, and he started his three and a half hour drive from Wirral (close to Liverpool) before sunup on Friday.
His three coaches were also told to travel to Newcastle yesterday morning.
The Times is reporting today Rafa is on £6M a year with a £3M bonus if he can keep us up this season – so Mike Ashley has been spending money like it´s going out of style this season.
Newcastle announced that Steve McClaren had been fired at about 11;45 pm and ¨A further announcement on a successor to Steve will be made in due course.”
After that I was in a Starbucks and read the Chronicle on my cell phone and it said Rafa was already at St. James’ Park, so I gulped down the coffee (dark roast – Italian – very strong) and headed back home.
And I had only been back a few minutes when the second announcement came – it was simply unbelievable.
And we have to give Lee Charnley some credit for pushing the deal though – and his skill is in negotiating the transfer business done at Newcastle – so he seems a very good negotiator – but he´s not a good leader or senior manager.
Rafa was introduced as the manager and it seems he has received pledges from Mike Ashley that he would be in charge of transfers in and out of the club and that a sizable transfer kitty would be made available in the summer – maybe £100M?
So in four days Rafa had convinced Newcastle to change from the failed continental system to a system more like the old England manager arrangement.
Rafa is nobody´s fool and he knew the previous system was set up for failure for any head coach walking in.
Rafa wouldn´t accept that because he wants to be successful – and he also had the standing and status to demand those pledges from Newcastle and to their credit Newcastle quickly caved in.
Newcastle made all the right calls with Benitez – even if it did take too long.
Yesterday was a huge day in the history of Newcastle United and in his first nufcTV interview it´s clear that Rafa wants to build Newcastle into a top club again with a top team.
It looks like he will be allowed to do that too.
But he must keep Newcastle in the Premier League this season to be able to do that.
Rafa will give his press conference for the Leicester game at 2:00 pm today.
We just have to hope that Rafa – and the players – with the full support of the Geordie fans – can produce the magic and results that will keep us in the Premier League this season.
If he cannot do that we will lose almost everything – our Premier League status and one of the best managers in Europe.
So there´s a lot riding on us staying up.
We must stay up.