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Rafa Benitez – The Best Manager In 39 Years

2:48 pm, Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 75 Comments

The well respected FourFourTwo magazine has published what they consider to be the top 10 managers in the English Football League – the divisions below the Premier League – and they have named Newcastle’s  Rafa Benitez as the top manager – easily!

FourFourTwo gives Rafa considerable praise and say he’s the best manager not in the top division in England since Brian Clough managed Nottingham Forest in the then second division in England from 1975 until Forest were promoted to the first division in 1977.

rafa benitez suit and smiling

Rafa Benitez – Newcastle manager – he’s the best

We’ll have more on Forest later, but here’s what FourFourTwo have said about Rafa:

“Not since Brian Clough has the second tier witnessed a manager of this caliber.”

“To some, installing the Spaniard as our No.1 before his first match at this level might be a tad presumptuous.”

“But his track record in the 2000s with Valencia and Liverpool puts him head and shoulders above the likes of Kevin Keegan, Harry Redknapp and Steve Coppell – names that would dominate any Championship managerial hall of fame.”

“Rafa’s stock has steadily declined since departing Anfield in 2010 but stints with Inter, Chelsea, Napoli and Real Madrid stand him in good stead for the intensity of life at St James’ Park.”

“The 56-year-old just wants to manage a big club in the old-fashioned way, and his willingness to accept this particular challenge shows immense belief in his own ability to create a legacy.”

So Rafa’s the best manager in England’s lower divisions for 39 years – since Brian was last in the second division in 1977.

And it’s worth remembering what Clough’s Nottingham Forest (with the help of his fantastic assistant manager Peter Taylor) did in the couple of years after 1977, when they were promoted.

1978 – Won League Cup
1979 – Won First Division, Won League Cup, Won European Cup, Won UEFA Super Cup
1980 – Won European Cup (is that all?)

Brian built his top side starting in the second division, much like Kevin Keegan did at Newcastle in the early 1990s.

So it will be interesting to see how Rafa does in the next few years – as he’s already started to build the new Newcastle side this summer – and his six signings look (very) good.

The top five Championship managers FourFourTwo selected are shown below.

  1. Rafa Benitez – Newcastle United
  2. Nigel Pearson – Derby
  3. Chris Hughton – Brighton
  4. Gary Rowett – Birmingham
  5. Mick McCarthy – Ipswich

Nigel Pearson is a former coach at Newcastle in second place and Chris Hughton, a big fan favorite still on Tyneside and our former manager – is in 3rd place.

Surprisingly FourFourTwo had that other Champions League winner – Aston Villa manager Roberto de Matteo – down in 10th place.

Of course – we already know Rafa’s the best!


Comments welcome.

Tags: Championship · Coaching · Management · Newcastle News · Other News

75 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Average_Contents // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:03 PM

    Just seeing Benítez name next to those wallys makes me want to vom.

    Once the lists sunk in it’s at that moment you realise what he’s actually sacrificed to be our manager.

    He should be up their with the big boys. Jesus.

  • 2 martoon // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:10 PM

    Quite amazing that the top 3 are currently or have been at NUFC – not really sure what that tells us?

  • 3 Jail for Ashley // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:19 PM

    That we’ve been hiring Championship managers since before Ashleys brain hemorrhage 😀

  • 4 Spoof // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:20 PM


    it tells us that we have spent too much time out of the top league lol

  • 5 Graeme // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:24 PM

    The two best managers in the last 40 years, are, without doubt, SBR and Rafa – a completely different league to anyone else.

    Yes, KK, was a superb motivator and had his team play some amazing footy, but he wasn’t a “Manager” the way SBR & Rafa are.

  • 6 Graeme // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:25 PM

    At SJP – obviously!!

  • 7 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:26 PM


    It tells us that you get what you pay for. What’s even more worrying, is that some of the managers we have had while in the prem, would, in my opinion, not have made the list at all. Ashley has been playing russian roulette. Last seasons chamber was apparently loaded 😀

  • 8 Jail for Ashley // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:32 PM

    Pardew was the appointment that annoyed me most. We sacked a popular manager to bring in a sacked league one conman, the worst thing that happened to us as a club in recent history was that fifth place finish that justified CH’s sacking.

  • 9 martoon // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:33 PM

    Thanks guys – I knew I could rely on you – maybe I should start a competition for the best answer 🙂

  • 10 Jib // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:38 PM

    I was shocked by Hughton’s sacking
    I liked the guy he seemed like a straight shooter.

    Looking at it dispassionately without all the playground tough guy insults it has to be said that Hughton’s subsequent managerial performance at Norwich would justify Ashley’s decision.

  • 11 Tsunki // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:41 PM

    Ironic that in the premier league Ashley was determined to dumb the role of Manager to coach and bring in a lower Division hustler and a selection of dullards to succeed him. Then when the drop to a lower league was inevitable, he goes out and gets a top flight Manager! What happens when we get promoted? Does Ashley think “jobs a good un’ let’s ditch this high spending fancy Juan and get Dowie in”?

  • 12 Tsunki // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:43 PM

    Jib I’d say most managers at Norwich would justify that but not necessarily all their own fault.

  • 13 Jail for Ashley // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:54 PM

    And Pardews following collapses with the worst type of football ever seen in the PL didn’t ???

  • 14 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 3:59 PM


    But surely being guarranteed 13-15th place was more important than trying to get into europe every year and risking money loss? 😀

  • 15 Jib // Jul 26, 2016 at 4:00 PM

    Sorry I didn’t get that
    Try again maybe ?

  • 16 ayecanny // Jul 26, 2016 at 4:06 PM

    Thanks for info on Saturday’s game!

    Does anybody know if the game is televised or a live stream on internet will be kicking about??

  • 17 Jib // Jul 26, 2016 at 4:16 PM

    I’ll stick a youtube link up
    It’s bound to be fake 😎

  • 18 Jib // Jul 26, 2016 at 4:20 PM

  • 19 Jib // Jul 26, 2016 at 4:20 PM

  • 20 Rotonda heights // Jul 26, 2016 at 4:45 PM


    kind of agree, hughton was a lovely guy but think he’d pretty much taken us as far as he could.

  • 21 ShirebrookToon // Jul 26, 2016 at 4:56 PM

    Whose name goes into the Rafa chant now that Gini has departed

  • 22 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 4:57 PM

    I liked and admired Hoots as well. I think he wouldn’t have done that well in the Prem however. He is probably a bottom 10 manager for the Prem but who knows given enough resources (which he never would have gotten with Ashley). Not possible to give a definitive answer. I’m much happier with Rafa though!

  • 23 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:04 PM

    I think we can rely on no more bollocks from Ashley until we’re back in the Prem. Then he might try to start meddling again. If he does Rafa will be gone and given our track record we’ll be back down again in a few seasons. Don’t do it Ashley. Shut up and stay away or sell up. Those are your best options.

  • 24 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:07 PM

    What about this Alex Pritchard lad? Anybody see him play?

  • 25 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:10 PM

    Now look what happened. Jib has killed the blog again. Harrumph…..

  • 26 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:13 PM

    A lot of you have been saying “G2 what are we going to do about crusty curmudgeons like Belfast and Cyprus who don’t believe in Rafa?” Very good question mates. Hmmmm. Well a brilliant start should start to gnaw away at them…… Then we’ll see if they can handle the pressure. Harrumph…..

  • 27 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:22 PM

    If Hoots was sacked because he had taken is as far as he could (which I agree was the case) then It would have been more understandable had we taken a FORWARD step with the new manager. Pardew was a sideways step. He achieved probably the same sort of finishes as Hoots would have imo, but with duller football. McWally was a backwards step from Pardew, and probably a sideways step from Carver. It’s like Mash failed to understand what “improvement means”.

  • 28 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:23 PM

    We have now taken a massive forward leap. It still is a little anoying that it was left until disaster had struck for a second time.

  • 29 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:25 PM

    I wonder where rafa ranks as a manager over all in the World? He has had relatively recent success, and still has a very high profile. He has to be in the top 10 in the world, surely?

  • 30 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:26 PM

    It’s very annoying YCMIU mate. It makes me want to poop in his wellies again!

  • 31 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:26 PM

    Correction from 3 posts ago…. i should have typed *”improvement” means*

  • 32 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:27 PM

    YES G2!!
    You go ahead and poop those wellies like they’ve never been pooped before!

  • 33 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:29 PM

    Rafa is rated 36th in the world by 442 mag YCMIU mate. Isn’t that a slap in the face with a wet kipper? I think he’s top 20 surely. Harrumph!

  • 34 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:30 PM

    Oh I’ll do it YCMIU mate! I’m just preparing myself properly with a nice peppery vindaloo!

  • 35 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:32 PM

    That’s Rafa’s 2015 ranking by the way. They are a little harsh on him if you read the article……

  • 36 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:35 PM

    For some strange reason I can’t find Johnny Carver’s world manager ranking? Very peculiar. We all know what a top, top coach he was…..

  • 37 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:36 PM


    That is pretty harsh. He has only really failed at Real Madrid, and it wasnt really down to him. I wonder about rating systems in football as a whole. Some bang average managers seem to be highly rated, and some others seem badly underated. Same goes for fifa world rankings. It’s all wrong

  • 38 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:38 PM


    Carver is in a whole seperate “league of extraordinary managers”, of which he is the self-proclaimed leader.

  • 39 Siremre5 // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:39 PM

    Norwich with 10£ bid for Mccormack.. Sky sources

  • 40 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:41 PM

    Agreed YCMIU mate. It’s far too harsh for a manager who has won 11 major trophies in his career. This line in particular made me hopping mad: “The current perception of Benitez as a bumbling oddity is somewhat unfair” Somewhat unfair???? Where’s my vindaloo again!

  • 41 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:43 PM

    Somewhat unfair!?!?!?!

    Maybe if they had written “a total travesty”, then the article would have been accurate in some way!

  • 42 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:43 PM

    And you know, and this is hard to believe, Steve McMuffin isn’t in the World Top 50 Managers either! What were they thinking. Haven’t they seen Mr. Tufty at work? Unbelievable…..

  • 43 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:45 PM

    I hope that selection committee realize who they’re dealing with. We can be over there and pee in their back pockets in the blink of an eye! Harrumph!!!

  • 44 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:48 PM

    I mean I know a bumbling oddity when I see one! Harrumph! Jib is a bumbling oddity for example! Calling wor beloved Rafa a bumbling oddity! It’s just too much I tell you. Heads must roll over this! Unbelievable!

  • 45 Belfast // Jul 26, 2016 at 5:56 PM

    In reality he wasn’t aloud to take us anywhere. Got us promoted at a canter and got given Tiote and Ben Arfa on loan (for two games) that summer window. Wasn’t backed transfer wise at all imo and still done a very good job.

  • 46 Belfast // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:00 PM

    You could argue his managerial performance at Norwich was down to having a squad full of championship players playing in the premier league Jib ?

    Alex Neil would probably say the same about his own performance last season.

  • 47 Jib // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:01 PM

    Just had a couple of ciders (with ice it’s 40 degrees! ) in my local hostelry with a kid from Slovenia.
    He tells me Milan Mandaric (remember him – rubberchops Redknapps buddy) is buying Haris Vuckic for Olympija Ljublyana .
    Yet another scoop for Ed’s wonderful blog.

  • 48 Jib // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:05 PM

    One man’s bumbling oddity is another man’s thong twanging hero !

  • 49 lochinvar // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:14 PM

    Not long now before Football emulates F1 and the franchises of global brands ( sorry I mean football clubs) from the Premier League, Europe , USA and China close ranks and play matches on a circuit basis moving from Country to Country like the Grand Prix.

    We need to get back up where we belong !

    Sky Sports to broadcast live games from mega-rich Chinese Super League after announcing three-year TV rights deal
    Chinese Super League games will be broadcast live on British TV
    Sky Sports announce agreement to screen matches for next three years
    Far East country has intentions to become a world footballing superpower

    Hulk gets £340,000 a week from some Chinese club – not bad for a has been !

  • 50 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:15 PM

    Good point jib. Harrumph!

  • 51 Tsunki // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:20 PM

    Behave Jib. Not many articles back you bitched at someone for being a boring nit-picker! Words like “Kettle” and “pot ” spring to mind

  • 52 Rotonda heights // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:24 PM


  • 53 Rotonda heights // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:26 PM

    rafa was 3rd, almost joint 2nd and had qualified for the CL latter stages when he was sacked. is that really failure?

  • 54 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:26 PM

    Good points Belfast mate. I think Hoots is a decent manager who wasn’t allowed to achieve as much as he could have. What followed was years of suffering. Now after a second relegation we finally get a top manager. Only because we’ve been relegated though. Otherwise Ashley would have continued to make us a nothing in football terms while he sat and collected his dosh.

  • 55 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:28 PM

    Absolutely not Rotonda mate. At the top if you don’t win something straight away you’re gone. It’s a crazy business up there. Look at the circus at ManU now.

  • 56 Belfast // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:30 PM


    You didn’t start your sentence with a capital letter when addressing Jib.

    You didn’t spell Jibs name with a capital letter and you made the same mistake with Hughtons name.

    I think that makes us even.

  • 57 Jail for Ashley // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:33 PM

    CH’s bad season at Norwich justified the dross that was to follow that fifth place finish which glossed over…..dross.

  • 58 Belfast // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:33 PM

    I am on a phone in my defence. 🙂

  • 59 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:34 PM

    Fcuks sake! It’s all sunshine and lollipops on here this evening!

  • 60 Belfast // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:36 PM

    Yer right Buster @57.

  • 61 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:37 PM

    Now we’ll finally be competitive in cups again. How many years has it been since we could say that? It’s not going to be all smooth sailing but we have a very good chance of going straight back up. Let’s enjoy this season. Then Rafa will have to prepare us for the Prem. I’m looking forward to that as well. It’s really added some gusto to life! Huzzah!!!!

  • 62 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:38 PM

    Not when I get finished pooping in Ashley’s wellies it isn’t YCMIU mate!

  • 63 Belfast // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:38 PM

    Pissing down over here Markass.

    So will you be sad when “Socks” leaves ? 🙂

  • 64 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:40 PM

    What’s that you all say? You haven’t heard Muskrat Love for ages and it’s really wearing you down? Well wait no longer lads!
    Muskrat, muskrat candlelight
    Doin’ the town and doin’ it right
    In the evenin’
    It’s pretty pleasin’

  • 65 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:40 PM


    It’s beyond any kind of defense, isn’t it? There was absolutely no point in dropping CH if we were not going to get an improvement in his place. Like you say…. we ended up with several years of dross.

  • 66 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:41 PM

    And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed
    Singin’ and jinglin’ the jango
    Floatin’ like the heavens above
    It looks like muskrat love

  • 67 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:42 PM


    I am sure you will miss me calling him socks. 😉

  • 68 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:42 PM

    Cheer up Belfast mate! It’s as sunny as can be over here in Canada. Beautiful British Columbia! Huzzah!!!

  • 69 GeordieTwo // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:43 PM

    You just can’t replace the Captain and Toenail.

  • 70 Belfast // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:43 PM

    Is the other blog under new management G2 ?
    I’m seeing articles popping up by the square yard from there these days.

  • 71 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:44 PM


    You have to admit, it would make a great headline in the papers


  • 72 Jib // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:45 PM

    You know after all this time crediting Tsunki with some brains.
    He really doesn’t “get” blogs !
    Tsunki if you have issues in the “real world” sort them out there laddy not in here.
    I didn’t “bitch” at anyone except in your heid you silly sausage.

  • 73 Belfast // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:45 PM

    Yep I’ll really miss you calling him Socks of course I will. 🙂

  • 74 YouCouldn'tMakeItUp // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:45 PM


    I am sure if Jesper were here, he could Rotate Captain and the Toenail…. at least the Captain anyway

  • 75 Belfast // Jul 26, 2016 at 6:48 PM

    Tiote in advanced talks to leave apparently.

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