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 – 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.
- Rafa Benitez – Newcastle United
- Nigel Pearson – Derby
- Chris Hughton – Brighton
- Gary Rowett – Birmingham
- 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!