Rafa Benitez only signed on full time to manage Newcastle for the next three years on May 25th – a short five weeks before players reported back for pre-season training.
So there was not a lot of time to do things he wanted completed to improve the training facilities at the club.
Those were some of the items he brought up to Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley when he was negotiating to stay at the club in the previous 10 days to get their support.
Rafa Benitez and coaching staff
With little time available in the summer he had the internal configuration and decor of the training facilities at Benton changed and upgraded.
Things like lighter paint on the walls to lighten up and freshen up the place.
He also made sure there was space for the players and coaches to relax between training sessions which would also help with the team spirit.
He had new 4G technology installed at the indoor training fields and also had the gymnasium upgraded with new and better equipment.
All that was done in the short five weeks of the summer, but they were merely stop-gap changes for this season.
Rafa and Lee Charnley are talking about what the next step will be in improvements at the club in terms of the facilities.
Huge Training Center plans were developed and announced back in November 2013 – three years ago – to transform Benton into a world-class training facility at a (then) cost of around £25M.
Because we have done so badly in the league since then those plans have been continually put back.
Rafa still feels the training ground and the facilities are not what they could be and the original plans also had a swimming pool as part of the “world-class” facilitates.
Whether or not the current building will be completely pulled down and new buildings erected in line with the 2013 plans is a good question.
The plans did have the building being prefabricated so they could be built fairly quickly – and maybe this is coming in the summer?
Artists impression of new Benton training facilities – November, 2013
The other big changes on the way are with the Youth Academy and the manager is looking to make changes there as the next step in improving the club.
Plans are being put in place to carry out a complete overhaul of the Academy, which is an important part of the club for Newcastle’s future, as we try to bring the youngsters through to be first team players.
Benitez is also working with Lee Charnley on something close to his heart – to improve the club’s relationship with its fans, the media and the local community overall.
That’s in addition to the club getting fully involved with local charities via the existing and impressive Newcastle United Foundation.
So there are big changes in the pipeline for Newcastle United, but first of all we must get promoted back to the Premier League next May.
That’s the only real target for this season until the summer arrives.
Given we are promoted the future looks to be very promising for Newcastle – and that may even be an understatement.
Howay the Lads!!