There’s a good video piece in Chronicle Live today from Mark Douglas who suggests that Rafa may not want to leave Newcastle this summer.
Rafa is the consummate professional who seems to have been through every barrier in his long career as a successful manager.
And while he wanted more Premier League experience in his side last summer, but was unable to bring the players in, the squad Rafa has this season now seems to be learning quickly.
The way our lads played against Manchester United showed that all the hard work they do on the training field with Rafa could be starting to pay off.
Rafa Benitez – at press conference after phenomenal win against Man United
Newcastle have lost (thrown away) too many points this season by conceding late goals and not taking our chances, but the players last Sunday played as though their lives depended on winning the game.
That’s what Jose Mourinho said after the game, and Rafa has mentioned earlier in the season he expected the side to improve as the season progressed.
So even though he has had little help from the owner, Rafa continues to make the players he has into better players.
And with Kenedy, Slimani, and Dubravka in the team, we could look a different proposition in the final 11 games of the season.
But we are still wary of Mike Ashley and whether he will again restrict Rafa’s spending this summer to keep the financial books at Newcastle looking good.
Most of the local reporters, including the Chronicle’s Mark Douglas, think that Rafa will get good money to spend this summer.
And the manager has shown he can pick some bargains up – like potentially getting Dubravka for a £3.6M fee and signing the very talented Mikel Merino from Borussia Dortmund for around £6M.
So Rafa can look back on the season and yes, Mike Ashley has made it difficult for him.
But progress has been made and players like Dummett, Lascelles, Lejeune, Diame, Hayden, Richie, Murphy, Merino and others will be better players for us next season.
If we can somehow keep the three players we have on loan and get them signed permanently in the summer, then Rafa needs probably four top players to make Newcastle a threat next season.
Rafa has not only shown what a good manager he is but how he can work through the (many) problems at Newcastle – whatever they are – and make the team (and the club) better.
Whether Mike Ashley can get him to sign a new contract is debatable, but if Rafa does sign an extended deal to stay at Newcastle, it will be like manna from heaven for Newcastle fans.
Rafa’s the best thing that’s happened to Newcastle for decades.