Rafa Benitez has responded to Newcastle’s Championship fixtures, which were announced at 9:00 am this morning and he has talked again about having a big enough squad so he can rotate players in what will be a long, tough season for us.
And he is looking to the Newcastle fans to help the side – and has said the Toon Army were just fantastic when he first arrived in March, as he tried to save us from the drop.
Rafa Benitez at St. James’ Park
Rafa was ultimately unsuccessful in that, but the improvement in those final six games – three wins and three draws – were phenomenal and we took Spurs apart in the final game 5-1, even though if was only 2-1 when Aleksandar Mitrovic managed to get himself sent off with over 20 minutes to play.
This is some of what Rafa has said today on the Newcastle web-site:
“I think that the fans make the difference for us,” “Last year, in the time that I was here, they were amazing, and hopefully they will be the same this season.”
“You see the stadium, you see everything here, the atmosphere – it has to be intimidating for our rivals, and we have to win our games at home.”
“I remember when I was at Liverpool, I would always say that’s (Christmas period) a crucial period, but it is true,”
“You have so many games in a short period of time, and you don’t have time to recover.”
“It’s really important to be sure that you’ve got a good squad – that you can rotate players, change players, and still do well.”
“The fans enjoy this time, and we have to do well in it. Hopefully we can enjoy it after that period too.”
Rafa has already won promotion for his past clubs twice in the past, when he was at Extremadura in 1998 and they finished second in the Spanish second division, winning 23 games of the 42 game season.
And when he was at Tenerife he got them promoted in his only season there in 2000-20001 – before he signed on at Valencia – and the rest is basically history.
Valencia won the Spanish League in 2002 for the first time in 31 years and then they won it again in 2004.
Valencia also won the UEFA Cup in 2004 before Rafa joined Liverpool in 2004.
Rafa is now motivated to do very well at Newcastle and win more trophies – that’s his stated ambitions at the Magpies, who haven’t won anything since 1969 when we won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Much better stuff seems to be on the horizon at Newcastle United under the word-class manager, but we have to start it in the second division after last season’s calamities.
It’s just good we are starting somewhere with Rafa at the helm.