Former Leicester and Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri knows Rafa Benitez very well and that was obvious before Rafa’s debut as the Newcastle manager last year at the King Power stadium on Monday, 14th March when Rafa lost his first game in charge of the Magpies 1-0 – but it was a close game.
Two former Premier league managers Ranieri and former Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka were on Sky Sports Goals on Sunday yesterday and because Newcastle are now back in the Premier League, we are now being discussed again by the pundits and former managers.
So that’s good – back from the wilderness of the Championship where very few matches were televised live and you become a forgotten football club with all eyes on the Premier League.
Claudio Ranieri and Rafa Benitez before last year’s game at the King Power Stadium
65 year-old Claudio believes Newcastle will do well next season and finish somewhere in the top half of the Premier League table under the famous Spanish manager.
This is what Claudio Ranieri has said about Rafa’s Newcastle team:
“I was surprised he stayed, but he believed they would be promoted;.” “He now knows that everyone is behind him and I think he can do a very good job next season.”
“Newcastle can be between the middle and high positions. They have fantastic fans and I think he can achieve this.”
Former Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka was also on the same show yesterday and he has this to say about Newcastle:
“It’s not easy but Newcastle is a team that were in the Premier League two years ago and in the past, and they have a great history.”
“They also have a lot of responsibility because they are the only team in the North East, so they are alone and they know how important football is in that area.”
“So I hope they do well.”
Newcastle under Rafa Benitez did what was expected last season and we were promoted in an automatic promotion spot as Champions with 94 points from the 46 games, but it wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be.
Rafa did really well for a league he literally knew nothing about at the end of last season.
But by his own admission Rafa is now a better manager having had to deal with multiple different formations of the Championship clubs.
Rafa seems to welcome any challenge in a football match whether it’s the Red Devils at Old Trafford or at the New York Stadium at Burton Albion and he approaches the games in a similar way – he just wants to win it.
That says a lot about his professionalism and his humility too – there are not many world-class managers who would manage in England’s second division, so Rafa deserves tremendous credit for sticking with Newcastle last May.
He’s some guy alright!
We’d be surprised if Claudio Ranieri isn’t spot on and we finish somewhere in the top ten.
Remember that we have only finished in the top nine in the Premier League under Mike Ashley once, when we were 5th in 2012 – so finishing in the top nine would be really good in our first season back in the big time.
We’d also earn about £127M from the Premier League if we do manage to finish in 8th place which is what the 8th placed team will receive this season in the first year of the new £5.1B Premier League TV rights deal.
That’s a lot of money and a lot more than the £47M – in fact £80M more – we will receive this month, with £7.1M from the Championship and our £40M parachute payment from the Premier League.
What do you think about this?