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Rafa Benitez Wastes No Time – Appoints New Assistant Manager

1:31 pm, Thursday, June 2nd, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 61 Comments

Rafa Benitez has appointed 43 year-old Mikel Antia to his coaching team at Newcastle and he will become assistant manager to Rafa, replacing the departed Fabio Pecchia, who left to manage Verona.

Antia was a defender who had a career that lasted from 1992, when he played for the Real Madrid B team under Rafa Benitez through 2006, when he finished playing after two years with the Real Union club.

Antia played for eight different clubs – all Spanish.

mikel antia

Mikel Antia – new assistant manager at Newcastle

Here is the official announcement the club had just put up on the web-site:


Newcastle United are pleased to confirm the appointment of Mikel Antia to Rafa Benitez’s coaching team.

The 43-year-old Spaniard joins United from the Aspire Academy in Qatar where he has been part of the coaching team tasked with developing young Qatari players.

He replaces Fabio Pecchia, who this week joined Serie B side Verona as the Italian side’s new manager.

Mikel, who hails from San Sebastian in Spain, had spells as a player at the Real Madrid Academy where he played under Rafa Benitez for four seasons, before moving to Real Valladolid in La Liga, also with Benitez.

Mikel later moved on to play for Celta Vigo and Real Sociedad.

The rest of Rafa Benitez’s coaching staff, consisting of Francisco de Míguel Moreno, Antonio Gómez Pérez, Ian Cathro and Simon Smith, will remain at St. James’ Park.

Rafa Benitez said:

“I am delighted that Mikel is joining my staff. He is a very talented coach and I know he will add great expertise to my team.

“At the same time I am sad to see Fabio depart as he has been an excellent professional from the first day until the last in the years we have worked together.

“He leaves to face these new and exciting challenges, both personally and professionally. I wish him all the best and say thank you.”


It’s also good news that Ian Cathro and goalkeeping coach Simon Smith remain at the club.

So Rafa as usual – doesn’t mess around and quickly brought in his third Spanish coach to his Newcastle coaching team, following Fabio’s departure.

Comments welcome.

Tags: Coaching · Management · Newcastle News · Other News

61 responses so far ↓

  • 1 G // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:32 PM

    Can’t say I heard of him, but if Rafa rates him, then he has to be good? Welcome Antia.

  • 2 Jail for Ashley // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:39 PM

    In the past it would have been Cathro no arguments.

  • 3 BandB // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:41 PM

    It’s good to see the new appointment made with speed and decisiveness.

  • 4 Tsunki // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:41 PM

    Spoof – I just saw your reply Re my Coloccini rumour. it’s ok to be cynical but no need to be so abrasive about it. 🙁

    The rumour I got was from someone who used to work as interpreter for him who was worried they would be soon out of a job because he was deliberating over a big move to a big club in Europe. They said Madrid but not which one. A A did say ‘rumour’, not FACT!

  • 5 Tsunki // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:44 PM

    I knew someone who had mikelantia. Nasty business.

  • 6 manxpie // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:44 PM

    Proper lego hair on him like, and let’s hope he hasn’t learnt how to be too corrupt

  • 7 Offkey // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:45 PM

    Do they have the management structure on the website anymore?

    Jail – before Cathro was listed as assistant, mclaren had two but they were called assistant head coach or assistant to head coach

  • 8 Tsunki // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:45 PM

    This guy was being lined up before benitez signed. Rafa wouldn’t have come without knowing who was going to be on board first. That’s my two cents.

  • 9 lewisnufc // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:49 PM

    He’s in as a coach not an assistant manager

  • 10 Jail for Ashley // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:51 PM

    Is Rafa a manager or head coach?

  • 11 Jail for Ashley // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:52 PM

    The Rafalution begins 😆

  • 12 WWSBRD // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:52 PM

    Most peaceful he will ever look now he’s signed up with us

  • 13 Sazzer // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:52 PM

    Finally a centre-back sign up!

  • 14 BandB // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:54 PM

    He needs to buy an iron.

  • 15 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:55 PM

    So it looks like he is an indirect replacement. Maybe cathro is still going to end up as assistant, and this guy will fill whichever role is left after a reshuffle. Still been done quickly.

  • 16 Tsunki // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:56 PM

    Maybe he just got off the plane in that pic.

  • 17 Tsunki // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:57 PM

    He has the correct moustache/beard combo. That’s a start.

  • 18 Tsunki // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:58 PM

    And so the wheels are set in motion, the final pieces of the puzzle are assembled etc etc

  • 19 Essex Geordie Bill // Jun 2, 2016 at 1:59 PM

    Are there going to be coaches assigned to specific areas, ie academy or is going to all coaches doing everything.

  • 20 BandB // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:07 PM

    The official statement says only that he has joined the coaching team.
    Louise Taylor is one saying he has joined as assistant, but that may just be an assumption.
    Last season Rafa seemed very keen to keep the first team squad and the kids apart, so I don’t believe one team of coaches will work with players at all levels, and nowhere does it say he has only worked with kids.

  • 21 Bobbybee // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:14 PM

    I see Mitrovic has given Sporting the cold shoulder. Although he says it’s nice to be linked with a big club like Sporting, he’s basically not interested – despite them offering CL football. Looks like he’s staying then. 😉

  • 22 BandB // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:15 PM

    A description of coaching roles..

    “Antia joins Francisco de Miguel Moreno (fitness coach), Antonio Gomez Perez (coach), Ian Cathro (assistant coach) and Simon Smith (goalkeeper coach) on Benitez’s backroom staff at Newcastle – all of who have been confirmed as staying on for the 2016-17 Championship campaign.

    Pecchia left United to take charge at Hellas Verona on Wednesday and, though Antia has been brought in as the Italian’s replacement, it is yet to be confirmed whether the Spaniard will assume the assistant manager role which has been vacated.”

    Note that Cathro is described only as an assistant coach, which would make him the most junior of the team, and an unlikely replacement as assistant manager.

  • 23 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:22 PM


    I would therefore assume that Antonio Gomez Perez is the most senior, since he is described as ‘coach’ (no one is “head coach”) and so would be promoted to assastant…..Then again,I have no real idea of how it works 😀

  • 24 giimps // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:23 PM

    Antia was youth development at a Qatari club so maybe doing the same job here, tasked with bringing players through the academy to slot into 1st team ……..that’s a good idea, it’s just a pity nobody thought of doing it before…….instead of dumping u21 players in for cup games and basically left to their own devices with players and formations they had never worked on before (or at least that’s the way it looked to me) If Rafa trusts him to do it right…….we should too

  • 25 BandB // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:27 PM


    Cathro is Antonio Gomez Perez’s assistant.

  • 26 BandB // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:32 PM


    And I agree Antonio Gomez Perez could be promoted to assistant, as he appears to be a more experienced coach and closer to Rafa than Antia.

  • 27 Toonces // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    Rafa is specifically listed as Manager on the club website. Does this mean he operates as such? It would seem so at the moment. Will Ashley et al eventually interfere and “reduce” him to head coach. Yet to be determined. Right now, I am accepting of what we see at face value. I am happy to see Rafa have plans in place to replace an outgoing coach and I am happy to see he is not taking vacation in the middle of these important preparation periods before the next season starts. Was completely frustrated by the likes of Kinnear and McClaren being on vacation when the transfer windows opened.

  • 28 Blofal // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    Rumours Michael Carrick spotted in Jesmond today? We can only hope!

  • 29 Blofal // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:35 PM

    He does have a business there though so lets not get our hopes up like I just did.

  • 30 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:35 PM


    Ah right i see. Either way, then, it looks like there is a plan. Not something we are used to 😮

  • 31 dok - the horrid colonial // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:35 PM

    Just get lost and stop trying to cause division where it doesn’t exist. Just wise up’

    boy, jail, looks like you’ve lost a member of your fan club…

    people who write things like this are a few sammiches shy of a picnic basket…

  • 32 Ibizatoon // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:35 PM

    Blofal…Didn’t he just sign a contract extension with Man U?

    Isn’t it possible he’s just visiting family, he’s locally born, right?

  • 33 dok - the horrid colonial // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:36 PM


    Carrick is a mate of a poster who I chat with a lot.. went to school locally I think…

  • 34 Blofal // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:37 PM

    Ibiza he has some business thing that’s based in Jesmond too. So its all bollocks.

    Plus we needed him a year ago.

  • 35 BandB // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:37 PM

    I hope Carrick doesn’t come.
    There is a long history of Manchester United old lags settling on other clubs for a last pay day and offering zero effort while upsetting the dressing room by regarding themselves as too posh to push.

  • 36 Ibizatoon // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:37 PM

    dok…The type you hang on a wall?

    Is it a “keep hanging in there” poster?

  • 37 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:39 PM


    Now now! Careful, he might drop his membership to your fan club too X-)

  • 38 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:39 PM


  • 39 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:39 PM

    Dont know how to do that one

  • 40 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:40 PM


  • 41 Mister Tuff // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:40 PM

    Carrick recently bought a city centre property in Mosley Street with the intention of making it the new HQ for his business -Monument Ltd – who are currently based in Jesmond.
    Do not want him and he would not come anyway.

  • 42 expatmag // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:43 PM

    Its going to be an interesting season in the championship and for those who think it will be a cakewalk for us, think again.

    Look at the experienced premiership managers:

    Villa………………..Di Matteo

  • 43 Ibizatoon // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:43 PM

    So no one is rushing out to get a Carrick Newcastle top then?

  • 44 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:44 PM

    On Carrick…

    Not sure he would offer us any more than we have in that sort of role, these days. Shelvey with the proper motivation, tiote and even colback have more milage imo.

  • 45 BandB // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:46 PM


    The club and Rafa haven’t made a big thing over his job title, probably by design. Rafa has been very discreet.
    It has escaped the notice of the press that he is now listed as manager on the club website, though this is probably the most important thing that’s happened do far.

  • 46 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:46 PM

    And then there is Saviet who we have not really had a proper look at, yet. It looked as if he was earmarked for that type of position.

  • 47 loonie-toon // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:50 PM

    A see fleet wood released shola

  • 48 lesh // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:50 PM

    Mmmm, are the muddied waters becoming clearer?

    Does Anita’s appointment show the writing’s on the wall for Beardsley?

    Rafa’ll have to be sure he names the right man when he’s filling in the team sheet!

  • 49 BandB // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:53 PM


    And isn’t it great that there’s no longer an involuntary little bit of sick rising in the mouth over the idea we might resign him as a free-agent as striker cover.

  • 50 Bobbybee // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:54 PM

    Expat, i suspect they are far more concerned about us than we are about them though. 😉 Not really in the same class as Rafa, although they have got experience. I know who I’d rather have anyway.

  • 51 Toonces // Jun 2, 2016 at 2:58 PM


    I am most happy to see someone acting like they have experience with how to properly run a football club. They can be head coach, manager, or whatever. Just so nice to see professionalism again at NUFC!

  • 52 jayphoto // Jun 2, 2016 at 3:01 PM

    heard Carrick was looking at developing a couple properties in Newcastle into hotels? He’s from near Holy Cross way anyway, used to play in a team with my cousin as a lad so definitely has a lot of family still up toon way!

  • 53 BandB // Jun 2, 2016 at 3:02 PM


    Exceptional people are rarely interested in the trappings and appearance of power but focus instead on getting their hands on the real levers of power, while playing down just how much control they really have.
    Rafa seems to have walked this line very cannily.

  • 54 loonie-toon // Jun 2, 2016 at 3:03 PM

    Bandb it does lol wonder we’re he will end up getting ona bit now int he

  • 55 Bobbybee // Jun 2, 2016 at 3:04 PM

    One of Rafa’s demands was that he be manager and not head coach, like macca was. Which might explain why he is listed as manager…

  • 56 jayphoto // Jun 2, 2016 at 3:05 PM

    saying that – astounded no one would have Carrick here! He’d be dynamite for one season. Geordie lad, never relied on pace, his use of possession and intelligence is excellent. Says it all about our fanbase really sometimes when we drop down a division but people would still turn their nose up at Carrick (had a good season too, many said he should have been in the England squad)

  • 57 Munster Mag // Jun 2, 2016 at 3:05 PM

    Glad rafa acted fast. Remember pardew and schteve taking ages? Knobs. Still if antia is so good, why did rafa not get him in at the start???

  • 58 jayphoto // Jun 2, 2016 at 3:08 PM

    @munster – originally rafa was only potentially in for 10 games from the start if we went down! Perhaps Anita was on too good a thing in Qatar to leave for a job that could potentially last only 3 months? Guessing all the coaches had the same break that rafa had if we were relegated, different scenario if now he’s left for a 3 year contract! Got to remember the coaches will be on much less than players and managers so might not be in a financial position to leave a long term post for potentially just a 12 week position

  • 59 Bobbybee // Jun 2, 2016 at 3:10 PM

    YCMIU, I’d be happy to keep Tiote for another season. He looked more like the original Tiote when Rafa came along, than that clone who took his place for a while. He would dominate midfield in the Championship.

  • 60 Bobbybee // Jun 2, 2016 at 3:19 PM

    Jay, Carrick has, on numerous occasions, dissed the club. Regardless of the argument that he dissed Ashley, he’s never had a decent word to say about NUFC. He’s made it pretty clear he would never join us, so why should we want him? Give him a big earner before he quits? He was a great player, but those days are gone. (He was never in the frame to go to France). We would be signing a player only the shadow of the player he once was. He doesn’t want us. The majority don’t want him. It’s not really an issue about the fan base.

  • 61 Average_Contents // Jun 3, 2016 at 1:52 AM

    So, according to ed’s calculations, that’s 9 players gone and only 6 brought in.

    For a season with more games.

    Not excluding our diabolical injury record, sounds fantastical that.

    Music to Jeffreys ears.

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