In the summer, Rafa did a few things that will help reduce the enormous number of injuries Newcastle seem to pick up every single season.
One thing he did was to upgrade the indoor training pitch from the (very) old-fashioned 3G technology to the latest 4G technology.
That will help cushion the effects of the pitch on the players joints and muscles and tend to lead to less injuries.
Rafa Benitez – fixing multiple things at Newcastle this season
Rafa also reconfigured the inside of the Benton Training grounds and introduced more room for both players and coaches to have quiet time and relaxation during their training sessions.
That also will help the team spirit of the squad.
Rafa also brought in a couple of new physios whose job it is to bring players back from injury once they are injured and to help prevent the injuries in the first place.
And the very fact that he has built the squad this summer so that we have two top class players for every single position means he can rest players throughout the season.
He also doesn’t have to rush them back from injury like we did in the past.
In the past Newcastle didn’t even acknowledge that we had far too many injuries and it all down to bad luck.
If you don’t acknowledge you have a problem it gets rather difficult to fix it.
This is what Rafa has said today about reducing injuries:
“We are trying to change some things. Part of it is to change players to give them more rest by rotating them. We don’t need to risk any players.”
“The medical department work very hard and we have a new fitness coach, a new physio and we have a very good atmosphere between them.”
“They are all working hard together, we try to manage the situation with them.”
“Sometimes, when you have a player with a little problem, the doctor can tell you it is a risk so we can make sure we don’t take the risk and play someone else.”
“If you push players then maybe they can get injured and we are trying to manage this.”
“At the moment, it is working fine. During the game you can’t control it, like you see Rolando’s injury.”
“Some of the injuries you can’t control. But if you can manage the load on the players, then you can keep them fitter.”
“The squad is not big. If you analyse every single player we had last season, we had 31 – now we have 27 with Freddie Woodman and Haidara who will play for the U-23s.”
“What we have now is that the majority of them are fit because we have less injuries. The squad looks bigger because we have two players in each position, more or less.”
Rafa played for Real Madrid youth teams from 1974 when he was 13 through 1981 when he left to play elsewhere.
He returned to Real Madrid in 1986 to coach the Real Madrid U-19 side and stayed there for nine years eventually coaching the Real Madrid Castilla side – the Reserve side – before he left to manage Valladolid.
So Rafa’s been in coaching now for 30 years and we are getting the benefit of that vast experience.
We’ve never seen a manager at Newcastle do so much in so short a time-frame.
On Tuesday night Rafa had been at the club exactly six months since joining us on March 13th and the positive changes he has introduced since then are simply staggering.
We suppose it’s a good job Rafa is both a perfectionist and a workaholic – he gets through mountains of work for the good of Newcastle United.
He’s just phenomenal.