Rafa has answered even more questions during the Chronicles’ extended and exclusive interview with the Newcastle United manager.
Overall Rafa seems to be satisfied with what he’s achieved so far in such a short time-frame – just over a year – and we think he’s done a tremendous job for the club.
But there are still many things to do of course and if we can get that promotion this summer then it’s going to be a very busy summer for Rafa and the Newcastle club in general.
Academy manager Joe Joyce and Rafa Benitez last April
Rafa first of all will want to once again overhaul the Newcastle squad and make it more than Premier League ready, so players will come in and lots of our existing players will be sold.
We would expect Rafa to continue making big improvements to the training grounds at Benton too, since he seemed less than impressed with them when he first arrived.
And since the club was going to install world-class facilities there that were announced way back in November 2013 – over three years ago – we wonder what the status of those improvements are with Rafa now managing the club?
Here are a couple of questions that Rafa was asked by the Chronicle – the first about Siem de Jong doing well on loan and the second about changes made at the Youth Academy.
1) Rafa was reminded that Siem de Jong is scoring goals out on loan with PSV ( 6 goals in 19 games) and he was asked if Siem has a future at Newcastle:
“We are following all the players on loan, we try to watch their games and keep in touch with them regularly. We will decide what is the best for us and them at the end of the season.”
“But I’m happy to see Siem doing well of course.”
We would be very surprised if Siem stays at Newcastle this summer, but at least his much improved form at PSV Eindhoven will make his transfer much easier to achieve – especially back to a Dutch club.
Newcastle will have a decent chance of recouping the £6M we paid Ajax for him almost three years ago.
2) Another question posed to Rafa was whether the changes made at the Academy were paying dividends this season – and what were the specific changes made:
“We started with some sessions and meetings with the coaches, sharing our ideas and making sure we have a united approach to the development of players throughout the club. The new 4G pitch was needed too, it was a big improvement.”
“We made some changes in the scouting department and also some young players have been training with us on a number of occasions to get experience and development.”
“But still we have to make some further changes. I am sure they will continue the hard work at the Academy to continue improving.”
Rafa has reduced the number injuries this season by a massive amount and it looks like it may have been the artificial pitches (old 3G technology) that was the major reason for those many hamstringing injuries our players used to pick up.
That’s just one good thing Rafa has done this season.