Before the game on Friday night Nottingham Forest’s French manager Philippe Montanier had talked about meeting Rafa Benitez at a conference a few years back and how he had talked with the world-class manager – and he seemed to be a fan of Rafa
Benitez has won three European titles (Two Europa Leagues and one Champions League) and won the Spanish League twice with Valencia beating out Real Madrid and Barcelona in so doing.
Nottingham Forest manager Philippe Montanier
This is what Philippe had said in the Chronicle before the game last Friday, about one of the most respected managers in football:
“I met Benitez three or four years ago during a managers’ conference in Spain,”
“After the conference we spent a little time together.”
“It is very important to have communication like that, with one of the top managers in Europe.”
“It was a good memory for me.”
It was a completely bizarre game on Friday night at the City Ground, when we had two players sent off in the first half and gave up two penalties, although our very capable goalkeeper Karl Darlow made two excellent saves.
We were winning 1-0 at the half through Matt Ritchie, but Forest finally got their second goal late in the game to win 2-1, but they found it tough against a well-drilled Newcastle side.
This is what Montanier said about Newcastle after the game:
“For me they are the best team in the Championship.”
“They have the best attack, the best scorer, one of the best defenses and technical quality, as well as physical strength and very good organisation with a top manager like Benitez.”
“For me it is the best team.”
“For that, even 11 against 9 it was difficult because that team have a lot of qualities.”
It was our third defeat in six days on Friday night and very hard to take.
In contrast it was Forest’s third win in a row.
But a huge positive was how our lads played their hearts out until the very last minute of the game – and they were applauded off the field at the end by the appreciative Geordie fans.
That’s a huge difference from last season when we would simply give up in a game as soon as we went behind with Steve McClaren as manager.
How things have changed under Rafa and the fighting spirit we have in the team augers well for the future.
We were proud of our players on Friday night – even though they lost.