Newcastle Star Exudes Confidence In “Fantastic” Benitez

We all knew we were getting a world-class manager in last March when Rafa Benitez famously walked through the door at St. James’ Park after Lee Charnley had finally fired Steve McClaren and out him out of his misery.

A lot of us actually thought we had died and gone to heaven.

It had been rumored for maybe two years that Rafa could be interested in the job, but I tried a few times to put that rumor to bed by saying it was ridiculous that a manager like Rafa Benitez would never join a club with Mike Ashley as the owner.

But I turned out to be wrong (not again?) and in fact Rafa was putting out feelers to the Tyneside club, because he wanted to manage closer to home.

Rafa Benitez with young star Isaac Hayden

That was after he had left Liverpool in 2010 and managed Inter Milan and then Naples for two years (2013-2015).

In between he was interim manager for six months at Chelsea and he won the Europa League for them, but the Blues fans didn’t want him.

He then joined Real Madrid for about seven months in June, 2015 after he had been very close to becoming the West Ham manager.

That was all happening while his wife Maria de Montserrat and their two teenage daughters Claudia and Agata were living in the family house in the Wirral near Liverpool.

One of the young stars he brought in last summer was Isaac Hayden from Arsenal for just £2.5M and Isaac has been a huge success for Newcastle.

Isaac has given a brilliant interview today in the Chronicle, where he talks about Rafa’s many attributes as a world-class manager:

“You’ve seen the other teams that have been relegated and where they are now,” “So it’s not just about buying players, it’s about players gelling together.”

“Even that doesn’t guarantee anything, so you’ve got to give the manager here a lot of credit.” “He has developed a team that is doing well in this division.”

“To have 85 points at this stage of the season is very good.” “Obviously I wasn’t here last season.”
“But since I arrived it has been nothing short of a great time.”

“The manager has unified everyone, on and off the pitch.”

“That’s along with the fans and the support staff, everyone has unified and we have produced a fantastic season so far because of that.”

“But these three games will define our season, and we have to make sure we take this opportunity.”

“For me personally he has improved me as a player.” “Would I be the same player if I wasn’t here? I don’t think I would be.”

“Tactically, technically – every aspect of my game has improved.” “That’s also down to having game time as well.”

“To get the manager’s trust is not easy, especially as a young player and especially in a team that is fighting to win promotion.”

“It’s OK if you are my age playing in a team with nothing to play for.

“But to get that trust from him within this team, is important for me, and I can only thank him for that.

“Hopefully I’ve repaid him over the course of the season.”

“Hammering players in the Press, different managers have different styles,” “You see it with Mourinho and Luke Shaw.

“I’ve played with Luke Shaw, I know him quite well and he’s handled it quite well.

“But that’s just managers’ styles, you have to understand that.”

“Every manager is different and he likes to do that or that’s the way he wants to do it and that’s that.”

“But Rafa has been fantastic to us, the manager.”

“Every single one of the players in there has had opportunities to play and it’s just up to individuals to take them.”

Great words there from Isaac Hayden, who has quickly become a real fan favorite on Tyneside.

Before this season Isaac had played only 26 first team games in his career  at Arsenal and on loan last season at Hull City.

But he has made 32 appearances this season in defensive midfield for us and he’s been simply fantastic – such a nice lad and a technically gifted young footballer.

If he continues this kind of improvement he’s shown this season under Rafa, then he will become an England International quite quickly.

How Will Newcastle Fare Against Preston?

View Results
Loading ... Loading ...

Comments welcome.

46 comments so far

  • Bobbybee

    Apr 24, 2017 at 11:35 AM

    Comment #1

    Springy. Left back. I like Dummett but he is limited. Left wing for sure. Need to strengthen midfield with competition for Shelvey and Hayden. No10 definitely and striker – been caught out with injuries. Cover/competition for right wing and centre back.

  • Bobbybee

    Apr 24, 2017 at 11:37 AM

    Comment #2

    Ideally we could do with eleven new players, for cover and replacements but that’s unrealistic.

  • sing in the corner

    Apr 24, 2017 at 11:38 AM

    Comment #3

    283 voted lose for tonight’s game…
    Be gone foul Fulwell types!

  • hibbit

    Apr 24, 2017 at 11:41 AM

    Comment #4

    toontaff2 /martoon
    i didn’t say you were it was more of a rallying call to get behind the lads no matter who or what your views have been
    no disrespect was meant or implied to anyone

  • Bobbybee

    Apr 24, 2017 at 11:41 AM

    Comment #5

    As the saying goes sing, two different set of fans, both obsessed with Newcastle 🙂

  • sing in the corner

    Apr 24, 2017 at 11:48 AM

    Comment #6

    Got cellulitis in my leg, the remnants of a chest infection but feel priveledged to be able to be there tonight…armed with antibiotics so there is no way I am gonna miss this moment!
    Howay the lads, sing up…all the way to the Premier League!!! 🙂

  • Bobbybee

    Apr 24, 2017 at 11:58 AM

    Comment #7

    Sing lmao, I’m the same with my back mate. Took a tumble laughing the other day – but of Karma maybe – and been laid up since. Buckled up like quasimodo when I stand up but nothing is stopping me getting there tonight. Got my brother pushing the chair – I hate that bloody thing – but be there I will. 🙂 I’m imagining many more like us two struggling but still managing to get there. One of those nights nobody wants to miss. I’m staying on my bed all day just to make sure I don’t do anything stupid and make it worse lmao. I just pray it’s not an anti climax and Preston don’t summon up the performance of a lifetime. In the past, yes, it might have happened, but hopefully those days are behind us. Howay the lads!!!!!!!!

  • martoon

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:03 PM

    Comment #8

    hibbit @4 – No worries – mine was only a flippant remark – not to be taken seriously 🙂


    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:04 PM

    Comment #9

    Pretty much the same positions to strengthen as me tbh….would like cairney and mooy as they can a lot midfield,attacking midfield….we need quality and pace in wide positions….and think we need a couple strikers as well

  • Bobbybee

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:10 PM

    Comment #10

    Springy, don’t want anybody on loan from the PL though. I think Cairney might be worth the gamble, but nobody else from the Championship – we need to aim higher. On the loan issue, breaking in opposition players for them is counter productive. It only encourages Chelsea and City to hoover up all the young talent and encourages the young talent to go there. If young players realised their playing time would be restricted to U23’s by signing for those two clubs they might be sensible and go elsewhere. I would ban loans between clubs in the PL if it was down to me, unless there was a realistic chance to buy at the end of it.

  • Legolas

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:11 PM

    Comment #11

    Rafa Bingo selection


    Anita Lascelles Clark Dummett

    Ritchie Shelvey Hayden Gougfran




    Buzzing for tonight. I hope the lads do us proud.

  • ron burgundy

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:13 PM

    Comment #12

    Gougfran singed on a free?


    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:16 PM

    Comment #13

    I mooy is a similar player to shelvey so woyld ad a bit competition to him coz when hes out we lack something goin forward….and to bring in quality will cost a lot of money im not convinced we’ll have a lot of tbh,so we’ll have to be clever wen signing certain positions first…hayden looks like he will grow into a really good player…solid in the tackle and drive forward but we do need a bit more competition in midfield


    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:17 PM

    Comment #14

    I think mooy is a similar player#

  • Bobbybee

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:22 PM

    Comment #15

    He’s a City player isn’t he? Or am I miles off? Thought he was. I just hate the idea of giving a rival club the benefit of our managers expertise, only for him to then play against us. If it’s a loan with an option to buy I can live with it, but improving another clubs players is anathema to me. If he wants PL experience let him get it at City or move clubs. Real bugbear of mine matey.

  • sing in the corner

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:27 PM

    Comment #16

    Aye problem we and other clubs like us have is keeping decent players happy who won’t necessarily start every week. They will put up with it to an extent at the so called top clubs for high wages, European games and the like but they want to be playing for the likes of us.
    Makes assembling a competitive squad with depth a tough job of course, but that’s the reality!

  • jayphoto

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:31 PM

    Comment #17

    Mooy is a city player!
    Check the Chinese player selection rules.. If Mooy isn’t a Chinese super league player next season i’ll be amazed. Reckon City will claim a good 20m+ for him too.
    The Chinese rules will see the price of Australian players and wages go through the roof.

  • jayphoto

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:34 PM

    Comment #18

    similarly, live near the Australian Burton player Jackson Irvine! He had the chance to earn 20x his salary by going to China in January but turned it down, largely because his family are millionaires and his dream is the premier league (apposed to the money)

  • Bobbybee

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:38 PM

    Comment #19

    Sing, that’s why I’m a big fan of bringing young lads through. They need to know they have a chance of breaking through to the first team without going to another club. I understand the Carroll situation and 35m was a silly offer, but now we’ve got a proper manager I’m hoping to see the youth setup being properly utilised. That way it doesn’t cost a fortune and the youth get the benefit of training with Rafa once they show real potential. I expect Rafa to extend his stay at Newcastle if I’m honest. I think he sees it as a great chance of proving just how good he is. Resurrection of such a sleeping giant will cement his place in football history imo. He can’t do that in three seasons so I think he’ll want to stay. He’s happy living where he is and Newcastle suits that as well. He’s already brought in some great potential so watch this space as they say.


    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:40 PM

    Comment #20

    Aye he is a city player but think at 27 i believe he is he may fancy a permanent move to a premier league club….not a huge fan of loans my sell tbh


    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:42 PM

    Comment #21

    Has anyone seen this young spanish kid we signed play yet….remember reading he had a good debut but not heard anything since….views anyone?

  • martoon

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:43 PM

    Comment #22

    Bobby I don’t mind the loan system but I think there should be a way to prevent teams like Chelsea from ‘hoovering’ up all the young talent and then loaning them all out – possibly putting a limit on the number of players one team can loan out or something cleverer?

  • Bobbybee

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:44 PM

    Comment #23

    Jay, thought he was like. Good player but 20m for potential is a big gamble imo. Taking him on loan, unless with a view to buy, is definitely a no-no in my books. Not up to me obviously so it’s a moot – not mooy – point. 🙂

  • ron burgundy

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:44 PM

    Comment #24

    never gonna happen money rules

  • sing in the corner

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:45 PM

    Comment #25

    Aye Ive banged on on here before about the need to give promising young uns more of a go a bit earlier than we do here.
    It’s well documented the ones we missed out on over the years!
    Also keeps the soul of the club alive if we look harder at local talent instead of bringing in sons / nephews of ex pros, or lots of cheap n cheerful foreign youngsters.

  • JamesToon

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:48 PM

    Comment #26

    I like Mooy but not sure about his work ethic, ideally want creative players who also work hard which will be really hard to find, because the work ethic is what makes benitez’s tactics tick.

    Do think benitez is gonna want a top quality defensive midfielder to complement shelvey/cairney, do the dirty work.

  • Bobbybee

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:49 PM

    Comment #27

    Is he really 27? Thought he was still young. In that case, not for me. I think Rafa is inclined to go for youth when you look at the average age of our lot.
    I’ve seen the young Spaniard play for the Spanish youth side mate and he looks the biz. Haven’t managed many games lately apart from the first eleven due to health problems. Hope things improve for next season because I love watching our young uns develop into real players.

  • JamesToon

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:50 PM

    Comment #28


    Its difficult tho isn’t it, a proven goal scorer can be the difference between staying up and going down, its a hell of a risk gambling on gayle/mitro and armstrong to score the goals, when we have the option to buy someone who we know will guarantee goals.

    I’d love to have a young quick geordie number 9 up front for us but its a risk, trust rafa’s decisions i guess 🙂

  • JamesToon

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:51 PM

    Comment #29

    bobbybee 27

    Is that the left winger victor fernandez?

    I was saying earlier how it might be decent to buy a new left winger and try and develop fernandez who’s apparently been involved a lot in the u23’s and looks promising, along with aarons if he can stay injury free

  • Hail Wor Ashley

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:56 PM

    Comment #30

    If Fulham make it to the play-offs they’ll probably win them and that will put to bed any Cairney hopes. Not really enamoured by him myself.

    Fully expecting a similar performance and atmosphere to the Leeds match, just hopefully with converted chances so there’s no chance of a sing in the tail.

  • sing in the corner

    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:57 PM

    Comment #31

    James @28
    Aye, that’s the conundrum. How long before the young player decide it’s time for them to play games and leave. This is another benefit of having Rafa. He gets respect and time, rightly so. If Pardew and co kept Mitro, for instance, waiting the way Rafa has he would have had less patience I’d guess!!

  • Bobbybee

    Apr 24, 2017 at 1:29 PM

    Comment #32

    James, that’s the lad mate. He’s very quick and controls the ball well. Everything we hoped Aaron’s would be, but his injury setbacks are becoming a real problem.
    I still think Arma will make the grade. You can’t teach what he’s got, it’s born into a player. His finishing power is what makes him so good, he can score literally from anywhere. If he gets a run of games with the likes of Shelvey picking those awesome runs he makes, he’ll prove himself at any level.
    Anyway, that’s my opinion and I ain’t changing it. I’ve witnessed it and he’s the best prospect for a long long time. Time will tell. So, I’m gonna chill out for a few hours before the game. I’m like a big kid waiting for Christmas right now. 🙂 Football does that to people, there’s not another sport like it is there? Newcastle does it even more! I get just as excited now at nearly sixty as I did when I was a young lad. I hope I never lose that either. That buzz is hard to replicate and long may it continue. With that, I’ll rest my knackered old back in preparation for a happy night and celebration of promotion later tonight. We’ll do it tonight, I can feel it. 🙂 To do it in style would be really nice, but I’ll take a deflection off the refs backside to win it. Actually, that would be justified after the scandalous decisions we’ve put up with this season. 🙂 Wonder what odds you’d get for that? With a Huddersfield fan reffing us and a mackem reffing their game… no, I won’t go there. We’ll win tonight and it’s back to the land of milk and honey – which is rhyming slang for loadsamoney!!!! Enjoy the game wherever you’re watching or listening from. HOWAY THE LADS!!!!!!!!!!!! Toon Toon, blacknwhitearmy!!!

  • toonincheek

    Apr 24, 2017 at 1:33 PM

    Comment #33

    I understand the negative gut-reaction when seeing how many
    youngsters are bought up by the ‘big’ (rich) teams.
    Surely, that’s no more than we are doing now, on a lesser scale,
    and we too would probably go the same way if we were a
    top-siz club.

    Look at it from the players’ viewpoint.
    If a ‘big’ club doesn’t step in and offer a decent contract,
    it could well be that some of these promising youngsters
    would not stay in the game.

    Is it not a case of the ‘big’ clubs ploughing money back into
    the game?

    OK – so they may, just may, get the next superstar on the cheap,
    but looking at it historically, how many times has that

    In the meantime, they have ensured that many youngsters get a
    chance to earn a living salary while playing regularly,
    learning the game and developing their own game.

  • jayphoto

    Apr 24, 2017 at 1:40 PM

    Comment #34

    @bobbybee – hes not worth 20m, but the Chinese clubs will pay that! Their league rules state that teams can only have 4 Non Asian players and 2 non Chinese Asian players in a side (and GK has to be Chinese)…. They include Australia and NZ in the non Chinese Asian bracket which means their sides are clamouring to sign Australian players as the level of Chinese players is very poor, but with every side having 4 south American stars, getting a top Australian in that starting line up will make a big difference!

  • jayphoto

    Apr 24, 2017 at 1:44 PM

    Comment #35

    the team that wins the play offs is usually the team that steam rollers into them with momemtum. Quite often its the side that finishes 6th (and then they get pasted in the premier league)
    Personally had brighton 1, Newcastle 2 and Fulham play offs in the NUFCBLOG predictions but now I can’t see past Sheffield Wednesday really with their firepower.
    Both brighton and Sheffield weds should have gone up last year and lost out both in fine margins, be nice to see them go up

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Apr 24, 2017 at 1:46 PM

    Comment #36

    Rafa Bingo


    Anita Lascelles Clark Dummett

    Shelvey Hayden

    Ritchie Perez Gouffron


    I see no one is selecting Diame but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rafa started him.

    Like to see Sammy on the bench.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Apr 24, 2017 at 1:47 PM

    Comment #37

    3-1 to us.

  • Budge123

    Apr 24, 2017 at 1:53 PM

    Comment #38

    Bloody hail stones now!
    Hope this weather sorts itself out for the match!

  • sing in the corner

    Apr 24, 2017 at 2:00 PM

    Comment #39

    Nah it’s gonna be perishing mate, by all accounts. Im sure the match will be lively and get the blood pumping!

  • expatmag

    Apr 24, 2017 at 2:05 PM

    Comment #40

    Anzac day tomorrow here in Australia so I will be up with the larks at 4.45am for kick off followed by our local township dawn service. 3-0 toon


You must log in to post a comment.