Rafa Benitez joined Newcastle on Friday, 11th March last year – so the one year anniversary is just four days away and will be on Saturday, when we play at home to Fulham.
And Rafa has achieved a lot in the short 12 months he has been at the helm and the fans will likely let him know that at St. James’ Park on Saturday afternoon.
We are not overstating the case when we say Rafa Benitez over the next several seasons could become the best manager Newcastle have ever had in their long 125 history.
Rafa Benitez waves to the fans at Huddersfield
That’s if he’s allowed to do his job and left alone to do it.
Rafa gave some excellent interviews yesterday after his press conference – and this is some of what he has said as reported in the Shields Gazette today:
“Twelve months ago, still I didn’t know what was going on.”
“Staying here last season, watching the fans – hearing the fans more than just watching was crucial in my decision.”
“And now I am really pleased because you can see the fans are so happy.”
“Always when we go away, they are so happy.” “To have the city – the whole club – following the team in a positive way is really important.”
“Especially when you come from Italy or Spain, and you know what is going on around.”
“You can come, you can do your job, you can coach the team and enjoy.”
“Yes, I am really happy with that.”
“But now the priority is just to concentrate on trying to win games and be sure that we are where we want to be.”
“I like my job,” “Sometimes people say ‘Rafa is lucky because he is doing a job that he likes and is getting paid good money’.”
“And that is true. In my case, I enjoy doing my job, and then I try to enjoy preparing for every single game.”
“There is the nervousness and the anxiety, but I enjoy the game in the way that I did as a young coach.”
“I try to make sure the players understand their job, and then, obviously, after that the main this is to win.”
“When you win, your are happy, but if not, then you have to start again.” (we are absolutely miserable!)
It took some courage and confidence for a manager of Rafa’s standing to agree to coach in the English second division this season.
It’s a very difficult league and probably the most difficult in the world to play in and to manage in.
But Rafa has taken it in his stride and done very well winning 24 games out of the 35 games played and getting 13 away wins this year – a club record.
He also equaled the club record of 9 successive wins in all competitions.
This all in his first year at Newcastle as he is transforming the club from top to bottom, so it’s hardly surprising the fans just love this man.
In short – he’s been fantastic for Newcastle United.
Long may he remain our manager.