When Newcastle were relegated last May most pundits thought that Rafa Benitez would simply leave the club and those included former Magpie stars Alan Shearer and Rob Lee.
But Rafa shocked everybody by agreeing to stay on at Newcastle United in the second division, after he had started the season managing the most successful football club in the world – Real Madrid – his home town club.
That of course reflected very well on Newcastle United – a sleeping giant of a club that has been very poorly managed over too many years.
Rafa Benitez talks to Paul Dummett last season
It also reflects very well on the famous Geordie fans who simply had a massive impact on the Spanish manager in his 10 games in charge of the club.
While Rafa couldn’t save us from the drop we did pick up 12 points in those last 6 games and took Spurs apart 5-1 in that last game.
We even started to look like a good team once Rafa had sorted one or two things out – and the five signings we have made so far this summer will only make the Newcastle squad even stronger.
Paul Dummett was away with the Welsh squad when the news was announced on May 25th that Rafa had surprisingly agreed to stay on at Newcastle.
This is what Paul has told the Chronicle today from the Magpies’ training camp in County Kildare, Ireland:
“For me as a player it is tough, as well as being a fan.” “I know how the other fans are feeling, the ones who went every week.”
“It’s tough when you are watching and the team aren’t winning and are at the bottom of the league.”
“When the manager came in we improved a lot and the fans seen that.”
“The way the fans backed us when the manager came in and the way they sang for him on the last day of the season was amazing.”
“Everybody is just delighted.”
“I was away with Wales when I got the news after overhearing some of the Welsh lads talking about how they couldn’t believe he was staying.”
“It just shows how much of a big club this is and the ambition they have shown to take the club forward.”
“It was obviously a massive thing that the manager wanted to see.” “He wanted the club to show him the commitment and for him to believe they want to go somewhere.”
“They have done that by signing new players so far.” “There’s been changes at the training ground so hopefully ……”
The mood in the camp is very positive and the lads seem to be really enjoying the week in Ireland and training under the world-class manager – although they all admit it’s been a tough work.
Even two of our wantaway stars Daryl Janmaat and Gini Wijnaldum have been enjoying it, as they have regularly been sighted walking around Carton House seemingly unable to stop smiling.
Yes – there’s no doubt Rafa Benitez has had an enormous impact on the players and everybody at the club including the fans since he joined Newcastle.
Rafa can certainly lead Newcastle back to greatness again and it all starts with getting everybody together on the same page and simply supporting the club.
Then Newcastle United can move forward as a team and a club – and quickly too!