We suppose you could say Chancel Mbemba really likes Rafa Benitez and he has been interviewed on the Newcastle web-site today and he says in the 10 games Rafa was at Newcastle, the manager made him into a better player.
Rafa had Chancel and Jamaal Lascelles playing at the heart of Newcastle’s defense in those final games of the season and they seemed to get better as they played more together.
They could be the central defense partnership next season, although we expect Rafa to bring in some experienced defenders in the summer.
Chancel Mbemba – a better player under Benitez
This is what Chancel Mbemba has said on the Newcastle web-site today:
“On a personal note, it’s really good to have worked with him. I’ve worked with a lot of coaches over the last few years, and Rafa is one of the best.”
“He’s absolutely fantastic. He’s a Champions League winner, he’s managed Real Madrid, he’s managed Liverpool and personally, I think he’s really helped me improve as a player.”
“It’s really important. The coach, when you look at him, is like a teacher – he watches everyone, all of the players and he gives you the confidence to go out there and do what you do best, so I would like to thank him a lot for that.”
“I played a lot of games last season. It was my first season here and I played 30-something games and that was really fantastic for me.”
The younger players at Newcastle will have the huge benefit of having a world-class coach bring them along over the next few years – and its got to be exciting for them.
Rafa made a big difference with a number of players once he arrived on Tyneside in March and they included Chancel, Jamaal Lascelles, Paul Dummett, Vurnon Anita, Jack Colback, Andros Townsend and Cheick Tiote – amongst others.
He played Jamaal in central defense and Cheick Tiote in central midfield when neither had seen much playing time under the woeful Steve McClaren.
It’s going to be interesting to see how he can make Adam Armstrong into a top goalscorer for his home town club – hopefully next season.