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Another Reported Benitez Conflict Debunked

9:48 pm, Monday, June 20th, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 62 Comments

We’ve been surprised that Rafa Benitez has looked quite a warm personality since he joined Newcastle United and the thing we remember when he was at Liverpool was that he was reported to be detached from his players.

Steven Gerrard’s comments that he never told him he had played well during Rafa’s Liverpool stay also stands out.

But Steven did admit Rafa was the best coach he ever had at Liverpool and that he played his best football when Rafa was at the club.

We’ve seen Rafa be warm with a number of the Newcastle players and certainly no breakups with his players at Newcastle.

albert riera

Albert Riera while at Liverpool

It seems to us the press have made far too much of the stuff that was going on when he was at Liverpool.

Back in March 2010, Benitez fined and transfer listed then 28 year-old Spanish International Albert Riera after the left-sided player  had said Rafa was coaching a sinking ship.

In addition, Riera was quoted in the press as saying the relationship Rafa had with his players was “practically nil” and hinted in addition the reason he wasn’t in the Liverpool starting line-up was personal.

However, six years on Riera has explained his quotes at the time were taken out of context as he tried to explain to Anfield HQ recently:

“The only problem was the media.” “I was frustrated when I was not included in the Spain squad for the World Cup in 2010, because I hadn’t had a lot of playing time in the Premier League for like two months.”

“So journalists put some words in my mouth saying that the person who was responsible for me not being included in the Spain squad was Rafa.” “After that I did another interview and said that I have to be my first critic.”

“But the media was not interested anymore.” “I have a normal relationship with Rafa – I meet him from time to time like at Pepe Reina’s wedding, or some family parties.”

“Rafa and Pepe also share the same agent.” “I had signed with him, too, when I was 18, but I’ve never had an agent since then because I was scared of them.”

“I’m the one who manages my career with the help of my lawyer.”

Of course you cannot be too close to your players because then your judgement can be affected, as it seemed to be with Steve McClaren, who wouldn’t drop either Sissoko or Wijnaldum when he had ample opportunity to do so after some away games last season.

It seems the players ultimately lost their respect for McClaren.

Certainly if you are playing and look at the touchline and see the coach with his head in his hands it wouldn’t give you much confidence – you would think – we are not doing very well.


You cannot be the nice guy all the time and be ultra successful, because on occasion  it sometimes needs a ruthless streak.

But there’s no doubt who is the boss at Newcastle United these days.

Comments welcome.

Note – with a 0-0 draw against Slovakia and Wales hammering Russia 3-0 tonight – Wales win the group in Euro 2016 – a poor show by England today – they still don’t seem to have the killer instinct against weaker sides.

Tags: Coaching · Management · Newcastle News · Other News

62 responses so far ↓

  • 1 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 9:56 PM

    Their two centre -backs were too big and strong for Sturridge and Vardey. AC would have been handy to chuck on in a game like that.

  • 2 Yo-yo // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:04 PM

    Who won the group betty ?
    It was like they were playing in Cardiff.
    And I hope Gary is proud of them.

  • 3 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:08 PM

    Yes all credit to Wales . Like Jib said a small country against a huge one. Ramsey and Bale are the difference. We just can’t seem to unlock a packed defence when they sit back with ten men behind the ball.

  • 4 jimmysmith // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:09 PM

    The last six games and the surprise of pundits and opposing managers that we were down in the bottom third suggests the squad is decent. I’ve long felt that our problems were the result of mismanagement for the two or more years prior to Rafa’s arrival, not the quality of the squad. Essentially mismanagement created a somewhat fragile vulnerable group, but that was then in the EPL, and this is now in the Championship, under Benitez.

    I think we need to replace Taylor, Obertan and Marv with two good young prospects, and move Dummett to CB and buy a legit left back and keep what we have as a priority. Anything achieved beyond that would be a bonus, but not essential.

    At the end of the season, Collocini, Gouffran, Rivierre, Ameobi and a few others come off contract. Which would provide ideal timing to strengthen appropriately and more easily for the task at hand and at just the the right time.

  • 5 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:11 PM

    I think we are better using pace to get in behind defences but how can we catch teams on the break when they stay in their own half.

  • 6 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:13 PM

    England I’m on about.

  • 7 Jail for Ashley // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:21 PM

    Woy just said hindsight about team selection! Bollox, as soon as I got off the chopper and switched my phone on, I said he’s taking this lightly for a must win game, six changes for a team just starting to gain ryhthym was fcuking amateur as was his decision to have Kane taking corners against Russia!!

  • 8 welshgeordie9 // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:22 PM

    Get in there the sheepshaggers (well that’s what muppets say anyway) are top of the group, get the frig in there, and by the way we are not a one man team.

  • 9 Jail for Ashley // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:30 PM

    fair play to your lads welshie, you can stop wishing you were English for a few days!!

  • 10 jimmysmith // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:36 PM

    Yes well done Wales, but Jesus, 3 nil. The Russians are probably on a freight train to the gulags as we speak. What a rubbish tournament altogether for Putins men.

  • 11 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:36 PM

    Well done Welshie. Great result for your boyos. I didn’t say one man team , I said Bale and Ramsey were the difference. That’s two.

  • 12 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:40 PM

    Jail…. I think he just assumed we were going to win and gambled on shuffling his pack. Rooney has to play, he’s a great orchestrator .

    By the way who’s chopper did you just get off ?

  • 13 Jail for Ashley // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:40 PM

    There’ll be videos of Putin doing judo and England fans running away all over the news and papers to make out they had a really good time of it.

  • 14 welshgeordie9 // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:41 PM


    My dear friend, we are not a one or even a two man team.

  • 15 expatmag // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:41 PM


    Your lads did very well but I wonder how you would have done if you had to face 3 teams in the group who were prepared to park the bus, concede possession and try to hit you on the break.

  • 16 Jail for Ashley // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:44 PM

    It was an AW139 and I don’t know who it belongs to.
    Of course he assumed it was a win, but it wasn’t a matter of course, it was a must win game, an unlucky goal could have seen us in third.

  • 17 welshgeordie9 // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:47 PM


    Best team finished top.

  • 18 jimmysmith // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:52 PM

    I think it’s reasonable policy to rotate the squad and show faith in players not in the first choice 11. We really were all over them. Why might be thinking he should’ve taken Wor Andy instead of Rashford.

  • 19 Tsunki // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:52 PM

    Been a completely awful tournament so far imo. The sooner the crap teams who play to percentages are out the better.

  • 20 jimmysmith // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:53 PM


  • 21 welshgeordie9 // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:53 PM

    What i can’t understand is why England never do well in the euros or the World Cup, best time was under Sir Bobby Robson, when you put a group of players together from the two Manchester teams, Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal then i always wonder why you never do well, somethings wrong somewhere.

  • 22 Munster Mag // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:54 PM

    Well done the welsh boys, cant imagine too many english fans expected ye to win the group. Meanwhile ireland u20s are into the final of the rugby world cup. Fine achievement from a small country where rugby is not the main sport.

  • 23 expatmag // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:56 PM

    I believe England were unbeaten and defeated Wales which possibly negates your comment there. Time will tell though.

  • 24 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:56 PM

    Welshie……. Some of your senior players look a bit past their sell by date. Sort of like mutton dressed as lamb.

  • 25 expatmag // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:57 PM

    Liverpool and Man City in for Townsend allegedly

  • 26 jimmysmith // Jun 20, 2016 at 10:59 PM

    I think the problem isn’t so much England, as much as Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Holland, Argentina and Brazil refusing to jolly well doff their caps, tug their forelocks, and roll over.

  • 27 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:00 PM

    We’re in the most difficult side of the draw now, could play Portugal next and our record against them in Championships isn’t the best.

  • 28 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:01 PM

    Well, we didn’t suck. No. We didn’t win but we didn’t suck either…..

  • 29 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:02 PM

    Well done Wales. A tremendous effort. Russia goes home. There is a silver lining after all.

  • 30 Ibizatoon // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:03 PM

    We weren’t particularly good either though, were we G2?

    expat…Both of those seem like terrible moves for Townsend. Whilst I rate him, I can’t see him getting the game time he craves at either of those.

    Best off with us…then I would say that.

  • 31 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:03 PM

    Welshie…… Your elongated headed horse faced hero is top scorer now.

    He must be a centaur.

  • 32 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:04 PM

    Good points there Tsunki mate. Really boring to watch a team play for a draw like Slovakia did. They suck.

  • 33 expatmag // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:04 PM


    No problem with Portugal. Just make sure Robaldo keeps taking all their penalties and free kicks

  • 34 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:05 PM

    We weren’t particularly good Ibiza mate, no. Possibly vaguely good or trying to trot over in the direction of good. That’s as far as I’ll go. Harrumph…..

  • 35 expatmag // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:05 PM


    Or a CENTAUR forward…….lol

  • 36 welshgeordie9 // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:05 PM


    You should have beaten Russia but you didn’t, yes you had all the possession against Wales but it took you in injury time to get the 2nd and the winner and also you should be looking at beating Slovakia but you didn’t.

  • 37 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:05 PM

    G2@28….. Be careful with those comments you might get sucked into it as well.

  • 38 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:06 PM

    Expat….. Very good.

  • 39 Ibizatoon // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:06 PM

    “trying to trot over in the direction of good” I can go along with. In fact, I’ll throw in a…well said G2!

  • 40 expatmag // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:06 PM


    As usual, you missed the point

  • 41 welshgeordie9 // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:07 PM

    Its crazy because in friendlies didn’t you beat Germany and you had draw against Holland or did you beat them.

  • 42 Ibizatoon // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:09 PM

    Welsh…I wouldn’t say it was crazy…just England.

  • 43 welshgeordie9 // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:10 PM


    He’s better than the rubbish you have got, 3 in 3 games our Welsh wizard has got.

  • 44 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:10 PM

    Well I just calls them as I sees them Ibiza mate. Now, harrumph, another important point. A lot of you have been asking “G2, how long is Rafa going to get before you start into him like you did with Johnny C. and Steve McGuffin?” Rafa is a God lads. You don’t just have a go at a God. Right, that’s settled then….

  • 45 welshgeordie9 // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:12 PM


    Haven’t missed the point, so which teams parked the bus as you have called it.

  • 46 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:12 PM

    It’s not exactly crazy welshie, as Ibiza correctly points out. It’s more wild and wooly as we like to say. You get the wild and you get the wooly. Today was wooly……

  • 47 Ibizatoon // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:13 PM

    G2…Not sure Rafa is God quite yet. Doesn’t leave much room for improvement. Let’s not forget, so far, all that’s been achieved is relegation.

    The future does look bizarrely bright mind.

  • 48 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:14 PM

    Yes, I’m watching that bettys mate @37. I refuse to accept that kind of wooly performance however. It’s on the verge so to speak. I’ll be watching their next match carefully. You never know when the S word might have to be used….

  • 49 Ibizatoon // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:15 PM

    Is the answer, each any every team has parked the bus. As they arrived at the stadium?

    Not funny enough? At least it’s factual.

  • 50 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:16 PM

    Now you’ve got it Ibiza mate! Bizarrely bright. It could be a solar flare or we could win the Championship, the FA cup and the Wallsend boy’s club talent contest next season…..Beautiful.

  • 51 welshgeordie9 // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:17 PM

    Just read some of the stories regarding Townsend in tomorrow’s papers, one player I don’t want to be sold is Townsend, i will be one annoyed person if that happens especially if he spends whole season on the frigging bench.

  • 52 bettyswallocks // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:17 PM

    Welsh…… I can’t dispute that he’s a great player but he does look like he’s had his head ironed.

  • 53 Ibizatoon // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:18 PM

    G2…Not sure about the talent contest. Now that Steve’s gone, with his superb Manager impression…whoops…I meant head coach impression.

    Not so fussed about cups etc for now. It’ll be nice to see some joy and pride about the place again. Hopefully.

  • 54 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:18 PM

    Too many changes to the side today. I thought for a while there that Gary Neville was going to come on at RB…..

  • 55 expatmag // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:21 PM


    The point is that Wales did not have to break down any of the 3 ultra defensive sides including your own team the way England had to.

    If they had, I very much doubt you would have topped the group and if England had faced a more adventurous Slovakia, they would probably have won the game easily.

  • 56 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:21 PM

    I’m deeply disturbed. Now, a of you are going to say that’s been apparent for some time…..But, well never mind that. I just worry about Roy and Gary. Shouldn’t they be in a nice knitting contest somewhere? This running a national team malarkey might be too much for them.

  • 57 Ibizatoon // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:21 PM

    What is G. Neville up to now? Haven’t seen or heard him mentioned since his Valencia departure.

    Thought he was a decent pundit. Helped balance out Carragher.

  • 58 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:22 PM

    Well, I have to wax the grommets now lads but I’ll be back…..

  • 59 Ibizatoon // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:22 PM

    Oh yeah. He’s with Roy. How did I forget that?

  • 60 Ibizatoon // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:23 PM

    I might slip off too. Seems I’m a little out of practice…

    Night all

  • 61 GeordieTwo // Jun 20, 2016 at 11:24 PM

    He does a fairly poor impersonation of Phil Neville on some late night programmes Ibiza mate. Didn’t the two of them have a knife juggling act or something?

  • 62 DubaiMicky // Jun 21, 2016 at 4:23 AM

    “It seems the players ultimately lost their respect for McClaren.”

    That would imply they had respect for him in the first place. I can imagine the chats between players “We’re getting who, sacked by a Championship Club, never really won anything, and we’re getting him? Where’s the ambition? Is this the newcastle I thought it was”?

    Anyway, that’s just going over a bad history, you only learn from history, we must look forward, not back.

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