It is hardly surprising that Newcastle fans today are still in some kind of shock, that we have managed to get Rafa Benitez to stay on at Newcastle, even though we are a second division side, but that should only be for one season.
In early March, things looked really bad when the squad had gone off on a week’s holiday in the south of Spain.
Head coach Steve McClaren had promised everybody who would listen to him, that he would sort things out with the team following the humiliating 5-1 defeat at Chelsea.
Jamie Carragher – fantastic for Newcastle
Not only did our players not seem to try in that game, but they also didn’t know what they should be doing on the pitch, so confused and humiliating was that display – one of the worst of any team in the Premier League last season.
But still Steve kept his job and at any other club he would have been fired the next day.
Then after 18 days of preparation, the next match was at Stoke City and Steve went all out for a 0-0 draw, but was unsuccessful and we lost 1-0.
After the game Steve still insisted we were unlucky not to get a draw.
Yeah – right.
And then we were taken apart at home by newly promoted Bournemouth 3-1 on the following Saturday and that was it on Steve McClaren.
After six days in came Rafa Benitez, but Rafa had left his white horse in Liverpool.
So even Rafa couldn’t save us after McClaren had been given far too much time to turn things around, which he always said was just around the corner.
Rafa had us winning three games and drawing three in those last six games for 12 points, which turned out to be one third of our points total for the season in the last six games.
But we were still relegated.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher knows all about Rafa, having played for him for the full six years while Rafa was at Liverpool.
Jamie had a great game for the Reds in that famous win in the Champions League final in 2005 against AC Milan in Istanbul.
Jamie has hit the nail on the head in talking on talkSPORT today, and he points out it’s just fantastic for Newcastle that Rafa has stayed – and the fans still cannot believe it:
“It is fantastic for Newcastle United.”
“It shows the quality of the managers in the Premier League now, that someone with Rafa’s expertise and trophies won is having to go to the Championship now to get a job.”
“He could have a got a job anywhere I suppose but in terms of England now and the money in the Premier League, what he is thinking is one year in the Championship – and hopefully I can build Newcastle up to be a team competing for Champions League places.”
“I think they are all still in shock – that Rafa actually took the job on the back of Real Madrid, but he is there and I am sure he will got a great job.”
Let’s hope Jamie is right on that, the last time we qualified for the Champions League was in season 2003-2004, Sir Bobby Robson’s very last season at the club .