When Rafa Benitez was negotiating for a full 10 days in mid-May to try to get the world-class manager Rafa Benitez to stay with Newcastle after we were relegated, it was tense times indeed for the long-suffering Newcastle fans.
We had been relegated, but you wouldn’t have really known it, as the Newcastle fans wanted Rafa to commit to stay on-board and then everything would be a lot better and would help with the pain of relegation.
And on May 25th when he was unveiled as the new Newcastle manager for the next three years, there was an enormous sense of relief coupled with excitement about what this man could achieve in the next three years on Tyneside.
Rafa Benitez and Lee Clark – while Huddersfield manager
While Rafa didn’t save us from relegation we had three draws and three wins in our last 6 league games and we took Tottenham apart 5-1 on the final day of the season.
In that game we scored three unanswered goals late in the game when we were down to 10 men, after Mitro had managed to get himself sent off with the score at 2-1.
That final day defeat for Spurs allowed their arch north London rivals Arsenal move into the runner-up position to Leicester City, so it was a very important game for Spurs.
Lee Clark has been live on Facebook with the Chronicle today and this is what he said about Rafa agreeing to stay on Tyneside:
“When a lot of people were doubting, I always felt he was going to stay with us.” “When he made that decision the sense of relief around the city was huge.”
“The belief came back to the fans and the city united as one.” “It just whetted the appetite of all the fans to come back for the new season.”
“I believe that a high percentage of the players signed in the summer can go back into the Premier League with Newcastle and be a success in the Premier League too.”
“It’s critical that he has control over the transfers now, too.”
“I think Newcastle will be challenging for the big footballers again now.”
And even those incessant (and unnecessary) taunts from Sunderland fans about relegation went unnoticed, as Newcastle fans were excited at having a world-class manager at the helm again after 12 years in the wilderness with only mediocre people at best in charge.
But as they say, there’s one thing Newcastle fans and Sunderland fans have in common – they are both obsessed with Newcastle.
The summer transfer market with Rafa in charge and helped by Managing Director Lee Charnley was a massive success.
And there’s more to come in January and next summer too,
The good times are back at Newcastle United Football Club.
Thank you Rafa!
Howay The Lads!!