Sky Sports Spanish journalist Guillem Balague wrote a book about Benitez’s time at Liverpool called A Season on the Brink: Rafael Benitez, Liverpool and the Path to European Glory.
Like most Spanish journalists, Guillem is following Rafa Benitez’ Newcastle “project” and is fascinated to see how the renowned Spanish manager can do with a sleeping giant of a club called Newcastle United.
Guillem Balague – extraordinary Rafa is at Newcastle United
For the first time in his career Rafa has been given total control of all football matters at a club and the 56 year-old has wasted no time in starting to transform the Magpies both on and off the field.
The change seen at Newcastle since he accepted the job permanently on May 25th following our relegation has been little short of amazing.
Rafa has already signed four new players with hopefully two more on the way in the next day or two.
New fields have been laid at Benton along with new 4G artificial turf pitches and the configuration of the dressing rooms and players quarters have been completely reconfigured at the direction of the manager.
Guillem Balague has been interviewed in the Chronicle today and he has said he will try to take in some of Newcastle’s Championship games this season in a league which could be really interesting.
This is what Balague has said in an exclusive interview in the Chronicle starting with how Newcastle were able to attract the world-class manager:
“I find it extraordinary.” “To be able to convince somebody like Rafa to come is extraordinary.”
“But at the same time, once he’d gone to Real Madrid and had the dream move he wanted, whatever happened there he was really wondering after that what was available?”
“He will never say I wanted to be at Newcastle since he’d been a boy or anything like that, but he knows that Newcastle can be one of the top seven or eight clubs in England.”
“They are simply going through bad times at the moment.” “Rafa will look at this as a professional challenge.”
“He will look where they go next and trying to bring them back to the Premier League is a fascinating challenge.”
“There are some big-name managers in the Championship this season and some Champions League winners in there like Roberto Di Matteo and Rafa.”
“It will be an exciting division next season and I won’t have enough hours in a day to watch all of the games!”
“I’m not sure how I will do that.” “I definitely want to go to Newcastle, go to Manchester, go to Barcelona and Madrid plus Valencia and Espanyol as they have Quique Sánchez Flores.”
“There’s so much going on, but I will find my way to Newcastle.”
“Real Madrid was very different and Benitez suggested things, but they didn’t always listen, but that’s how it works at big clubs.”
“Especially one where the business model is to be the galacticos.” “The manager at Real Madrid is always just another piece of the puzzle.”
“At Newcastle, he can get on with his challenge.”
Rafa is telling everybody who will listen to him that he has a very exciting project at Newcastle and he has started it in his usual workaholic no-holds barred approach to getting things done quickly.
Lee Charnley seems to be working well with him at the executive level too to move things along too, which is good.
Couple that with his unique coaching ability and man-management skills and the manager has already had a profound impact at Newcastle – at the football club – and also a profound effect on the City.
Rafa has said he wants to win trophies at Newcastle – something that hasn’t happened at the club for 47 years – since May, 1969.
To do that Rafa has to take Newcastle back to the top – the very top.
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