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Four Surprising Things We’ve Learned About Benitez In Six Days

11:50 am, Thursday, March 17th, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 42 Comments

When we thought of Rafa Benitez  as a manager we thought of the stereotype that was portrayed by the English press while he was the manager at Liverpool for six years.  A manager in the true continental style who was aloof from his players and wasn’t particularly a good man-manager or very personal with his players.

There is the piece that Steven Gerrard said in his book that he wished Rafa had said to him well-done a few times after some of the games he played – which he never did.

Steven also said Rafa never called him anything other than Gerrard in the dressing room and on the training field even when he called other Liverpool players by their nicknames and first names. Steven revealed he was never really close to his manager while Rafa was at Liverpool.

rafa benitez arrives at st james pk

Great shot of Rafa arriving at St. James’ Park last Friday

But here’s four things we have learned about Rafa in the last six days that have surprised us as we have learned about the man in the short six days he’s been at Newcastle.

  1. Rafa seems a very good man-manager and it started as soon as he came in last Wednesday when he trained with the players and told them one very big reason he came to the club was that he knew we had some very good players here.
    That’s who he was talking to of course – and he also made the point that he expected 100% from them in training sessions and in the games – obviously addressing the fact that we have been an up and down team under Steve McClaren.
    After the game on Monday night he had only praise for the commitment of the Newcastle players, although he wasn’t particularly happy we lost the game.
    Rafa only wanted to point out the many positive things the players had done during the game and that they had kept going for 95 minutes pushing forward.
    We expect Rafa to start to get the best out of some of our star players very soon – and it was a decent enough start last Monday night.
    In short, we didn’t realize he was such a good man-manager.
  2. He is charismatic and there were some great shots taken of him when he arrived at St. James’ Park and he seemed just delighted to be at Newcastle, as much as it was a total shock to the Newcastle fans that a manager as good as Rafa would want to come and try to save Newcastle from relegation.
    When he finally arrived on Friday he looked relaxed, confident. smiling and genuinely delighted to be signing on as the new Newcastle United manager.
    It’s a match made in heaven between Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle fans.
  3. Rafa seems to have known for years about Newcastle United and how big a club it was and how great the Geordie fans are.
    He has talked since he arrived about the conversations they had at Liverpool before they visited Newcastle and talked about what a big club it was and it was very similar to Liverpool but that we were struggling in the Premier League.
    So those stories linking Rafa to Newcastle while he was at Naples over the last two years or so seem to be true.
    Yes – those stories we said were completely made up – we were wrong on that – and glad to be too.
    Rafa obviously wanted the job at Newcastle and was delighted to come – as surprising as that still seems to us.
  4. The 55 year-old is very much a family man devoted to his family of wife Maria de Montserrat and their two daughters Claudia, who was born in Madrid in 1999, and Ágata who was born in Valencia in 2002.
    Rafa was married back in 1998 while he had been in management for a short five years, and it is the very fact he wanted to be close to his family in the Liverpool area that were one of the major reasons for wanting to join an English club – Newcastle.
    The Benitez family live in the village of Caldy on the Wirral Peninsula, which is just less than 200 miles from Newcastle and takes about a three and a half hours drive by car.
    Note to Mike Ashley – It’s much quicker by helicopter.

What have you learned about Rafa that has surprised you since he’s been on Tyneside?

Comments welcome.

Tags: Coaching · Management · Newcastle News · Prayer · Premier League · Press

42 responses so far ↓

  • 1 hate // Mar 17, 2016 at 11:54 AM

    Rafa might be the best manager we had since Sir Bobby, but we desperately need goals and wins.

  • 2 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:03 PM

    ian toon
    you mentioned sissoko played defensive mid when playing for toulouse but i read he played with capoue in cm and capoue was more the defensive player of the two with sissoko pushing forward…..if he was a bit more aggressive not nastily but more dominant then he could possibly play cm but it has to be said his touch and control needs lot of work and for a big bloke does’nt win a lot of headers.

  • 3 jayphoto // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:08 PM

    @Jib, I like Dost, his movement is decent and he’s awkward for defenders but surely any link to any player is absolute B.S? Pretty sure if we stay up, the players we sign will be Rafas choice which would mean the players we’ve been linked with for yonks will be no longer of interest?
    One thing Rafa has shown in management is that he LOVES to sign players that have come through the Barcelona and Real Madrid youth set ups. Guessing his contacts there run deep, more so now after managing Madrid. My bet would be we see at least 2 or 3 coming in from La Liga that got their education at one of those sides.

  • 4 Average_Contents // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:12 PM

    Master multiple

    Wtf are you on about?

    I’d suggest you get a life but you probably wouldn’t have time.


  • 5 Ian Toon // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:13 PM

    Springy- I agree with much you said. Though against Leicester he competed more in the air and won the ball , than at any time I could remember. It seemed to me that maybe Benitez had singled out Moussa as someone he could get so much more from. The Chelsea game was a while ago and only one game but it could simply just be a confidence issue and lack of consistency. Some players play better with better players. Danny Simpson played within his limitations and not the marauding attacking FB regularly caught up field out of position with us. I think there are a few players in the mix going forward.

  • 6 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:14 PM

    we know rafa will play 4-2-3-1,thats his style, he prefers that so he has to pick who is best for each position for the next game..regardless of who it upsets….something wally,carver and pardew never did.

  • 7 jayphoto // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:14 PM

    @Springy – I saw Toulouse a lot when sissoko was there. Ian toon is right, he played defensive midfield. Toulouse largely set up with a 4-5-1/4-3-3 set up and sissoko and capoue played level, sat very deep with Paolo Machado in front of them (who did zero defending).

  • 8 Jib // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:15 PM

    Last night I was watching Jordi Alba , born in l’hospitalet de llobregat about a kilometre from Camp Nou but left the Barcelona set up for Valencia for years.
    Could be the solution to our left back probs

  • 9 jayphoto // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:16 PM

    They did most of their attacking from the wide areas. Had good attacking full backs and played forwards on the wings too. Sissoko was very withdrawn, disciplined and had to cover the full backs when they bombed forward. He was very Vieira esque in style in those days

  • 10 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:20 PM

    will agree sissoko was better against leicester,when i say does’nt win headers for a big bloke,was meaning all season against sometimes weaker,smaller players which can only be down to desire to win the ball,risk injury to win the ball,same with tackling…he seems to shy away from that side of the game,hopefully this is a confidence issue and rafa can sort him out as he could be a class act for us….not hating the bloke just pointing out a few frailties he gets grief for.

  • 11 jayphoto // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:23 PM

    @Jib – I’d bet money they’ll look heavily at Sandro Ramirez again! Or Munir El Haddadi.
    Similarly it wouldn’t surprise me if they look at Jese from Madrid. Rafas tried to pick players up that graduated those academys so often in past clubs. I guess they have great ability and education but Madrid especially, and barca these days buy their stars not develop them. No way really El Haddidi or Sandro will break into barca’s 11 and Madrid will spend huge as I think they have a transfer ban coming in after?

  • 12 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:24 PM

    good to know, like i said…just what i read when he signed,or heard from someone and it sort of made sense when capoue came to the english game, coz he was/is very def mid…..i stand corrected!

  • 13 cyprus // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:24 PM

    Aren’t we moving a bit too fast re Rafa deification? Shouldn’t we like wait till he at least wins A game?

  • 14 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:27 PM

    the type of player we get in will depend where we are…..we stop up…i will assume rafa will have a canny war chest to build….laporte from bilbao and a cheeky bid for kone from the mackems if they go down for cb’s would be a good start.

  • 15 Derek // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:31 PM


    EXACTLY my thoughts.

  • 16 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:31 PM

    if we a relegated,would the players stay if rafa does?….
    we’ve talked on here for months about how we would lose almost all of any quality players we have, but if he stayed…would they by into rafalution?

  • 17 jayphoto // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:34 PM

    @springy – personally I doubt he has the desire or the bravey to be a defensive midfielder in the premier league. In ligue 1, players either defend, or attack, not both. Because most teams play containment, deep football, at least for half a game it’s easy to look like a world class defensive mid in ligue 1. Capoue for example looked an absolute world beater. Similarly, M’vila (whos not a bad player) looked world class in france. Think is very few teams in france press, so DM’s can use their natural athleticism or other attributes to defend, but then get time on the ball to distribute to better ball players. In England they don’t get that time and it shows up the less than technical players for what they are which is my theory to why sissoko gets shunted out on the wing. His technical ball skills are championship level at best but his natural athleticism, power etc is top level. Personally I think how France use him is best. In a 4-3-3 as the right side of a middle 3.

  • 18 Jib // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    Rafa really sees us as a real opportunity to do something great.

    He was told the Galacticos policy at Real would drive him crazy .

    People were always sticking their noses in his transfer business at Liverpool.

    At Valencia in 2004 he said of their CEO Manuel Llorente “I asked for a sofa and he bought me a table lamp”

    If they have the sense to leave him to pick what he wants and give him the ” yes Rafa – no Rafa – 3 bagsfull Rafa” treatment we’ll do great .

  • 19 Derek // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    Since Rafa’s appointment last week, some fans seem to be seeing a light… But is it the end of the long and dark tunnel, or is it a train quickly approaching?

    There is still no way of knowing.

    All we know so far is that Rafa is not going to sack Ashley, Charnley or Carr.

    There is no evidence to suggest Rafa will either A) remain at NUFC if we are relegated, or B) have any control over transfers in the upcoming window.

    All the optimism should be taken with an enormous deal of caution…

  • 20 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:42 PM

    funny… we buy players like sissoko,gini,goofy,perez(sort of) all played different positions to where we play them…sissoko cm..and gini played mostly in the wide right of a midfield 3(once again just what ive read as never seen any games)…just seems like we are making thing s difficult for ourselves before we start!

  • 21 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    caution is warranted yes,but it does look like move in the right direction bringing him in,so optimism will be higher,we have’nt had a lot to be optimistic about so maybe until we know our fate, people will go over the top a little.

  • 22 Derek // Mar 17, 2016 at 12:59 PM


    Yes that is true, but exactly the same was said just under a year ago following Ashley’s interview during last Summer’s transfer window.. and look what has happened since!

    Personally I don’t like getting my hopes up until I see progress. By progress I mean consistently good football, performances and greatly improved results.

  • 23 toonincheek // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:04 PM

    SPRINGY @16

    Let’s hope your question is academic.

  • 24 jayphoto // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:06 PM

    @Springy – think Gini played everywhere for PSV. Whenever I saw him, for feyenoord, PSV or Holland he’s always played as a #8 but his tactical understanding and technical ability is so good that I think he can be a success anywhere in midfield. It is bizaare though how often players play out of position here. Riviere never played as central striker before Newcastle, always wide of a 3 or behind a striker. Gouffran played central striker in a 1 up top at Bordeaux. Luuk de jong never got a run as #9 either. Still remember seeing Cisse right wing…..

  • 25 toonincheek // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:06 PM

    Still finding it hard to believe that Rafa has joined us.

    He has achieved so much, he could easily have walked into a number of big/successful clubs.

    Maybe the attraction is that he has never before
    wakened a sleeping giant?

  • 26 WWSBRD // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:10 PM

    I listened to the Gallowgates podcast today and one of the lads on there said he’d heard NUFC didn’t approach Rafa rather his people contacted Newcastle

    I’ve decided to be ultra optimistic til the end of the season so am gonna believe it haha

  • 27 jayphoto // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:10 PM

    Quite like Hodgsons England squad for the friendlys. Shame that he’ll probably drop a few back for rooney, Wiltshire etc but great to see Drinkwater, rose etc gea call up after the season they’ve had.
    Would have taken shawcross of jagielka, Cahill and stones though. None of those are having a particularly good season. Stones is hugely over hyped and jagielka and cahill seem n the decline.

  • 28 WWSBRD // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:12 PM

    Maybe so mate but Gini hasn’t been particularly good for us in any position so far

  • 29 jayphoto // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:16 PM

    Harry Redknapps taken over as manager of Jordan! I bet we see her shacked up with Niko Kranjcar before the weeks out 😉

  • 30 Jail for Ashley // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:19 PM

    Jeezus I hope we win on Sunday, stay up and see the benefits of having a top manager.

  • 31 jayphoto // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:20 PM

    @wwsbrd – that’s true. Though I’ve been to the last 2 away games, stoke and Leicester and I’ve been impressed with just how good technically Gini is. He’s not really done much but his touch, etc are a class apart to our other players, its interesting how players look live as apposed to on tv though. Mitro looks far better on tv, live he has a pinball touch. Shelvey another who is far better than I realised having seen him live

  • 32 WWSBRD // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:28 PM

    Aye he’s technically very good but his overall performances have been one of the biggest disappointments for me this season

    Mitros alright just very young and needs people around him his hold up play is great tbf but little point in that if he’s by himself

  • 33 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:32 PM

    lets face it, theres decent players there just there confidence is dragging across the ground,gini’s strength and close control is good his passing of late has let him down but like i’ve just said..confidence is so low right its effecting ability, strength and decision making….for example sissoko running in on goal against leicester if that was a confident sissoko or a player high in confidence like vardy he would of shot at goal,but sissoko past it and it all turned to shite,not knockin the bloke as that was down to confidence,hopefully if theres a chance like this against the mackems,that there confidence has been built up in training….no one seems to want to shoot anymore.

  • 34 Ron Knee // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:33 PM


    In a sense, it was simpler when we had McClaren – relegation was a certainty! But now we have a glimmer of hope …

  • 35 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:37 PM

    if we are to play the one up front i dont think mitro has the pace to effectively do that,2 of the better players who play up front by themselves were drogba and lukaku,although big and powerful they also had pace,never lightning but enough to worry defenders if turned i dont think mitro has that,i do rate the lad but cant see him being the long term single player up front.

  • 36 WWSBRD // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:41 PM

    I’d agree with that I think Mitros best times have been with Perez behind him because Ayoze sticks up top with him and they half way made a partnership

    Siem is too slow to offer that and Gini is either too deep or invisible. If we were firing in crosses consistently Mitro up top could come off but we try to work it into the box to no one

  • 37 SPRINGY // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:49 PM

    think shelvey and gini,should be cm,perez attacking if mitro playing,townsend left,sissoko right.

  • 38 martoon // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:51 PM

    jayphoto @31 – I’ve said many times on here you see completely different aspects of players when you are actually at a game than watching on TV or a dodgy computer stream. You just don’t see the runs and work rate of some players on TV.

  • 39 WWSBRD // Mar 17, 2016 at 1:55 PM

    Aye is have that next season but to survive I’d prefer Doumbia Cisse and Townsend front 3 Shelvey Colback Gini/Sissoko behind

    But hey whatever team Rafa puts out is the team we should use now

  • 40 Harley // Mar 17, 2016 at 2:14 PM

    For the derby.

    We have the better players by a mile.
    We have the better manager by a mile.
    We have home advantage.
    We have the feel good factor back.
    We are due a win by law of averages.

    Surely there is no better time to end this hoodoo!!!

  • 41 Moonraker15 // Mar 17, 2016 at 7:53 PM

    Rafa is the best manager we have ever had. Let’s believe in him and get behind the team on Sunday however good or bad we are playing. If we win this Derby we will go on to stay up and next season could be special!
    C’moooooon !

  • 42 Moonraker15 // Mar 17, 2016 at 7:59 PM

    Whatever team Rafa picks for Sunday will be to give us the best chance of a win based on what he knows and sees in training. We have to trust this man because he totally believes in the club; he has no agenda other than our success. He will get the wins starting on Sunday but we need to will the lads over the line!

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