Mikel Antia is the new assistant manager at Newcastle taking over from Italian Fabio Pecchia, who left St. James’ Park to take over at Italian second division club Hellas Verona.
The 43-year-old Spaniard has talked today in northern Spain about his excitement at working alongside Rafa Benitez at what he describes as an historic club in England.
Antia played at Real Madrid’s Academy and at Real Valladolid under Rafa – and he leaves the Aspire Academy in Qatar to join Benitez on Tyneside.
Mikel Antia – Newcastle’s assistant manager
This is what Mikel has said today in the San Sebastien newspaper El Diario Vasco:
“I have a relationship with him from when I was coming through the ranks as a player at Madrid and Valladolid.”
“That he has remembered me gives me great satisfaction because it gives me the opportunity to work with a great coach at a historic club in England.”
“It’s an adventure and a challenge into which I can take a lot of enthusiasm. Newcastle, under certain circumstances, lost their top-flight status last year.”
“So the goal is clear: to climb back into the Premier League. That’s the clear objective and we must see if we can do it.”
“In July, pre-season starts.”
Rafa retained two of the coaches who worked under Steve McClaren at Newcastle – Ian Cathro (assistant coach) and Simon Smith (goalkeeper coach) – and he brought in two of his long term assistants in Francisco de Miguel Moreno (fitness coach) and Antonio Gomez Perez (assistant coach).
We thought the pre-season training was due to start on 28th June?