Rafa Benitez was attracted to Newcastle United because he knew of the passion in the City for football and he knew all about the terrific fan base on Tyneside and even talked when he arrived of how before his Liverpool side used to play Newcastle, the players talked about that sleeping giant Newcastle United.
That’s what attracted Rafa to the club last month, but he also put a release clause in his contract that could be exercised at the end of the season – and many believed that was an escape route for him if he couldn’t save Newcastle from relegation.
It would hardly look good if a man who was hired as the Real Madrid manager last June to start the very next season as a Championship club manager in England.
Rafa Benitez – will he stay if we are relegated?
We are still hoping – especially with the great 3-0 win yesterday against Swansea – that Rafa can save us and then he will be at the club for three years (at least – give him an eight year deal like they gave Pardew) and we can all look forward to much more success than we’ve had over the last nine years with Mike Ashley.
In fact we could even win a Cup under Rafa Benitez.
The disaster scenario for Newcastle fans since last month has been that not only would we be relegated but that Rafa would also leave us in that event.
But there are a number of stories coming out from the local papers that Rafa really likes it at Newcastle and today there’s a report that Rafa is telling friends he is falling in love with the City and the fans.
If we make an assumption – that could mean he could even stay on at Newcastle if we are relegated next month.
If we are relegated and Rafa stays and is then allowed to build his own team in the summer and be in charge of all transfers – he wouldn’t stay if he didn’t get that assurance – then this summer Rafa could bring players in he wants and move some players out he doesn’t want.
He could build a strong team in the summer that could challenge for the Championship.
The hoped for scenario would be we get promoted straight back up from the second division next May and then in the following season we at least finish in the top eight.
There are at least two cases we know of where famous managers built up good sides in the second division and then were almost instantly successful in England’s top league.
One was our very own Kevin Keegan who won the second division in 1992-1993 with 96 points and then we finished 3rd top of the Premier league in 1994 and then 6th, 2nd and 2nd in the three subsequent seasons.
And way back in 1961-1962 the great Bill Shankly – one of our favorite managers of all time – got Liverpool promoted from the second division with 62 points and in the following seasons in the old first division Liverpool finished 8th, 1st, 7th and 1st in the following four seasons.
That was the basics of teams for Liverpool that have since won five European Cups. a host of first division titles and cups galore.
Bill retired in 1974 and Bill Paisley – his assistant manager – took over and had even more success.
Note that players in the Liverpool promotion side of 1962 included Roger Hunt, Ron Yeats, Gordon Milne, Ian Callaghan, Jimmy Melia, Chris Lawler, Tommy Lawrence and Ian St. John.
These were some legendary players at Liverpool.
So there are precedents to good teams being built in the second division and doing very well immediately after promotion.
Maybe somebody should let Rafa know that?
As we said earlier, we are hoping and praying we can still survive in the Premier League this season – but if not and we are still able to keep Rafa – then the future could still be bright.
And it’s possible because of the Newcastle fans and the City – that’s what attracted and could keep Rafa as Newcastle manager – whatever happens next month.
So let’s have a sell-out crowd there on Tuesday night and that will help at least two important things – our chances of winning the game and surviving – and also keeping Rafa Benitez at the club whatever happens.
And to end this article, Rafa didn’t join Newcastle because of owner Mike Ashley or the efficient and visionary running of the club by Lee Charnley.
It’s because of the fans – pure and simple.
Howay The Lads!!