When Rafa Benitez was thinking about staying on at Newcastle after we were relegated in May, it was mainly the press who thought he would never manage in the second division in England.
He was such a world-renowned manager who had won the Champions League with Liverpool and two Europa Cups with Valencia and Chelsea, so why would he ever want to play the likes of Burton Albion in front of 7,000 fans in the Championship?
Alan Shearer was also outspoken about the fact there was just no way Rafa would stay at Newcastle in England’s second division.
Rafa Benitez – Burton are a good side
But they all misjudged Rafa and he stayed and it turns out he doesn’t have the ego of some other top personalities in the game and at the time he explained it was a coaching challenge for him and that it’s always about playing 11 against 11.
Rafa has been asked that again today before his side make the trip down to Burton, who were in the Football Conference in 2009 and have made it to the Championship – an amazing achievement for the small club.
This is what Rafa has said in his interviews before the game tomorrow at the Pirelli Stadium, as reported on the Newcastle web-site:
“People said when I came here: ‘Oh Rafa is going to the Championship’.”
“It wasn’t a problem for me because I have been around the small neighbourhoods of Madrid when there are only the parents of the games watching.”
“I never had a problem in the past and I don’t have a problem now.” “For me it is an opportunity to manage your team and do something good for the people supporting the club.”
“The difference is what it means for the media.” “In terms of the game, it’s 11 v 11 and you have to have your game plan in your head and your solutions.”
“I remember watching them at the beginning of the season and I was impressed with the atmosphere and the fans.” “The intensity too.”
“I have watched games and prepared our plan and it’s the same now.” “They have very good team spirit and work very hard.” “They have good players and have pace.”
“They are strong and can make a difference, especially at home.” “At home they are doing well and away they maybe have more problems.” “But we have to play there, we know it will be a tough game.”
“I tried to tell my players it has to be a motivation to have the fans saying things to you!” “This type of atmosphere has to be a challenge for you more than a problem.”
In our opinion it’s clubs like Burton Albion who are the bread and butter of English football as the community rallies around the club.
That’s exactly what Rafa is trying to do at Newcastle since he first arrived and he’s not made a bad job of it so far.
It’s even fitting that Rafa is taking his new Newcastle side to Burton Albion – it should be a good game and we think Benitez will get a good welcome from the Burton Albion club.
After the compete disasters of the last two seasons we’re not getting ahead of ourselves or too big for our boots – we just hope we can get all 3 points tomorrow.