It seems like it will be touch and go whether Rafa Benitez stays with Newcastle when we go down into the second division of English football next season.
This has been one of our worst-ever seasons in the Premier League, when after 32 games we had just 25 points – that was before Rafa staged a surge for survival and we were unbeaten in his final six games of the season, when we won three and drew three and two of the draws were at Liverpool and at home to Manchester City.
Rafa Benitez – Newcastle manager
This is what Rafa had to say today in his program notes for the game against Tottenham – when 10 man Newcastle demolished Spurs 5-1:
“We fought hard and everybody, at all levels at the club, have put in a lot of effort to try and turn our situation around. But we were unable to save ourselves from relegation.”
“There have been injuries, missed chances and some unlucky moments over the course of the season, but we cannot make excuses. We are talking about 10 months and 38 games where we should have got more points, but we didn’t.”
“We have made mistakes and if you are in the bottom three at the end of the season, that is where you deserve to be. The table does not lie.” “We have already started thinking about the future.”
“I have had conversations with people at the top of the club and we have been talking about what we need to move forward, and we are working on that.”
“I will need some time for reflection, to think about the last two months and what lies ahead.” “I am very happy here, but it is a difficult decision to make and one which I need time to consider.”
“It is not just about following your heart, but being sure that I can lead this club back into the Premier League at the first time of asking.”
“I do not want to take on this challenge without the conviction that I will do well for the club, the fans and everyone who will put their confidence and trust in me.”
“What I can guarantee to you is that I am considering the option to stay, because the potential of the club, the fans, the staff and the people of Newcastle who have been even more impressive than I ever imagined it would be.”
“I have enjoyed working here, and my time at St James’ Park has exceeded my expectations, even if we were ultimately unable to achieve what we set out to do over the final 10 games.”
Rafa is right to point out that he must be able to lead Newcastle back to the Premier League next May – and the 56 year-old needs to know what’s available from the club to help him build a good squad that can do that.
It’s imperative that we get promoted in our first season down below, otherwise the finances become very difficult: we can survive in the second division for one season, but that’s it.
Here is Benitez’ record at Newcastle – we hope it’s not the end of the games he manages for our great club.