Rafa Benitez is demonstrating why he is one of the world´s top coaches and in truth he is a huge advantage for Newcastle over the managers of Sunderland and Norwich during the run-in to the season – Sam Allardyce and Alex Neil.
Newcastle now have a manager who knows how to win games and has done that consistently during his career – and that´s like night and day from the woeful Steve McClaren.
The pundits are saying something very different to that – and they generally say it´s Sam Allardyce who has the advantage, because he has been in these relegation situations before – and generally done well in them.
But that´s because he isn´t one of the top managers in the league and has hardly managed any really top clubs.
Rafa Benitez – used to winning matches
Sam Allardyce has never managed a club that has won league titles and European Cups and he has never been a manager in demand in Europe.
Rafa remains the only manager ever to have won the UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup and he has also been named the UEFA Manager of the Year twice.
So the pundits may well be underestimating Rafa in this relegation fight.
We hope so.
The Newcastle manager has given lots of interviews yesterday and he has talked about the team and how he thinks we have enough momentum to win our last two games.
Here´s what he has said about how he has Newcastle changing formations depending on the state of the game:
“We were a little but unlucky, especially at Norwich, but the team is fighting,” Benitez explained when asked if the comeback draw at Liverpool can be a turning point on the road.”
“At Anfield, we were fighting and we knew what to do.” “It was the same against Swansea and Crystal Palace, and that gives you more confidence.”
“We have a game-plan, and I say to them: ‘Try to do this and you will be successful.’”
“We try to replicate things from the training sessions, but if something is wrong, we have to change and adapt.”
“I think we have done well with that. We change the formation from 4-3-3, to 4-2-3-1, to 4-4-2 for different moments of the game.”
“We have been doing that well.”
It´s measure of a well coached side that we can change formations that easily and of course Rafa has put in extra training sessions and cancelled days off to try to get his methods and ideas across.
But our survival is still only touch and go – and we just have to hope he wasn´t brought in too late by the incompetent people running the club.
The real challenge is today and we must win at Aston Villa.
If we can do that then it will probably all depend on the last game at home to Spurs a week tomorrow.
But with 52,000 mad screaming Geordies in attendance and the Rafa Revolution at Newcastle in jeopardy – we can win that game and stay up.
But yes – it´s going to be very close.
Howay The Lads!!