Roberto Di Matteo had his press conference yesterday for the game tomorrow with Newcastle at Villa Park – and he said he wasn’t all that surprised that Rafa eventually decided to stay on at Newcastle even though we were relegated.
It was a decision that shocked a lot of pundits including Alan Shearer, who kept telling everybody there was no way Rafa would stay and manage a second division club because he would get offers pouring into him for his services – he’s that good.
Roberto Di Matteo in training at Villa
But Rafa stayed – maybe because he thought the job wasn’t finished when he couldn’t save Newcastle from the drop, but he did a great job with 12 points in those last six games.
But the fans fell in love with Rafa and it seems one big reason he agreed to stay was there was an instant rapport that built up between him and the passionate Geordie fans.
Rafa took over from Roberto when he was surprisingly fired by Chelsea in late 2012 after winning the Champions League with Chelsea in May of that year.
But from what Roberto says it seems both managers have great respect for each other.
This is some of what Roberto said yesterday, starting with Rafa deciding to stay on Tyneside:
“I think it was a natural evolution for him to stay.”
“He went in at the end of last season, and obviously understood what the task was – the players, the team and I think it suits him quite well to be at Newcastle. I wasn’t surprised.”
“In general there is a lot of respect between the managers.” “With Rafa it is the same.”
“He has obviously had an illustrious career, and he’s a very good manager.”
“They have probably started the season a little bit better.”
“I think they are little bit more settled than us as a team. But it’s probably an even game. We have the home advantage.”
“They are a strong side, but it makes for a good game. It’s a big game for us and Newcastle. It should make it an exciting match.”
Roberto is a talented manager and it’s good to see him back in England and with a big club too.
He should do well as he gets time to get to grips with the Villa players he has, but hopefully not tomorrow.
Most Newcastle fans think we can win this game – which is another very important one – aren’t they all?