Phil Brown has given some significant praise to Rafa Benitez today for staying on at Newcastle after we were relegated – and that he has not deserted a sunken ship – so to speak.
Phil has pointed out that Rafa has stayed on board for the significant challenge he has taken up of steering Newcastle United back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Rafa does seem to have owner Mike Ashley and Managing Director Lee Charnley right behind him in what is a united club at the moment; the most united and together Newcastle have been since the great Sir Bobby Robson was manager from 1999-2004.
Phil Brown – Southend manager – Rafa Benitez didn’t just walk away
And he thinks it’s Rafa’s strong character that has seen him stay on at Newcastle.
This is how Phil Brown responded when asked if he was surprised that Benitez had agreed to stay on at St James’ Park for the next three years:
“Yes and no.” “Having locked horns with him as assistant-manager at Bolton Wanderers it’s nice to know that he’s actually stayed with Newcastle.”
“Us managers like a challenge and there’s no better a challenge than when Stevie Bruce got relegated at Hull City and he got promoted.”
“That challenge of Sean Dyche getting relegated at Burnley and then staying and getting promoted again.”
“That is a challenge that nobody can question you as a man because you haven’t walked away from a ship that’s going down.”
“You’ve not walked away from a crisis, you’ve actually taken it on the chin, you’ve accepted that you’ve got relegated.”
“And you accept the chance of getting promoted again with backing from Mike Ashley, with backing from the Board of Directors.”
“And that’s what you need; you need money because everybody wants to go up as you have to because there’s a £150M-£200M pot at the end of it so the pressure’s on Newcastle to finish as Champions.”
“It doesn’t matter, the main thing is to get promoted and get back into the Premier League and start fighting again.”
“It’s testimony to the man that he stayed on and hats off to him as far as I’m concerned and I’m looking forward to Newcastle doing well this year.”
Rafa’s strong character and loyalty is not particularly shared by a number of our high profile stars – and we could yet see Florian Thauvin, Moussa Sissoko and even Daryl Janmaat leave the club before September.
Andros Townsend and Gini Wijnaldum have already left for Premier League clubs.
But strong characters in the dressing room was not a strength at Newcastle last season and it’s just one of the things Rafa is trying to fix this summer and he’s already made what look like six very good signings.
Matz Sels, Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie, Isaac Hayden, Jesus Gamez and Grant Hanley have all joined the club over the last month or so.
They all seem to be delighted to have joined a club as big and as famous as Newcastle United.