Rafa On His His Two Years At Newcastle – It’s Totally Different Now

One of the many reasons Rafa Benitez is adored on Tyneside is that he wants for Newcastle what fans have been yearning for.

He wants to make Newcastle into a very well-run club with a top team that can challenge to be in the top six in the Premier League and probably (a lot) more than that.

He talks like a fan talks and his vast experience means he knows what he’s talking about.

And why owner Mike Ashley wants to still do it his way – we have no idea.

It seems like Mike Ashley wants to stop Rafa making Newcastle great again.

A smiling Rafa Benitez – manager of Newcastle United

He inherited players who didn’t want to be at Newcastle and it was easy for Rafa to get rid of them in that summer two years ago after we had been relegated to the Championship.

We then had players like Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle who came down a league to join Newcastle and Rafa – they wanted to join Newcastle.

Rafa was asked to reflect on taking over at Newcastle on Friday 11th March 2016 and this is what he has said as reported in the Chronicle today:

“When I came we had around 33 players. We changed a lot of things and we couldn’t save the team.”

“Then the year after we won the Championship and were the best team in it. We won, scored goals and didn’t concede too many, it was a great season in the end.”

“So quite positive. This season, Premier League, we have been competing and can we do a bit better? Yes.”

“Could it be worse? Yes.”

“They want to play for the club now.” “They are good professionals and that’s what the fans have seen.” “It is totally different.”

“At the same time some players that left last year were key players for us.” “When you are relegated you lose players to the Premier League.”

“Some decided to stay and some decided to sign.” “Why? They wanted to improve, do well and compete.”

“I think each player is doing well at their own level, but they are working so hard that the fans can’t complain about it.”

“But we have to stay calm, it’s always the same message for me, keep calm, keep working hard. Hopefully, we can stay up.”

“The team now has a good mentality and good team spirit. They work really hard.”

“The game against Manchester  United allowed the fans to get behind the team and enjoy it.”

“So if we can keep this connection – fans, players, working hard, we will have more chances against all teams but especially the teams close to us.”

Those are great words from the gaffer.

And the atmosphere at Newcastle is so much better than it used to be – especially now after our last two successive home wins and the great performance our players gave last Saturday.

It’s now looking like we could survive the drop but we cannot be over-confident in any way.

Rafa takes every match one at a time and works out a game-plan to win it.

His game-plan against the Saints was terrific and the players executed it brilliantly.

Now we need our players working their socks off in our next game on March 31st against the Terriers – who will give us a much tougher challenge than the Saints gave us.

Another win in that game would suggest we can stay up this season – we would need 5 points in our final 7 league games to be safe on 40 points.

We can do it!

Howay The Lads!!

Comments welcome.

121 comments so far

  • The next Mike Williamson

    Mar 12, 2018 at 2:56 PM

    Comment #1

    If we sign him for say £15-20m then it will make sense to sell Aarons and another of our left wingers – most likely Atsu for £5-7m as Murphy will improve. If we only have a limited budget it would make more sense to spend that money on James Maddison or Gabriel Pires & a striker. The two strikers we were linked with (Slimani & Jorgensen) seem a lot older but no better than Mitrovic who is still improving. Armstrong might be worth keeping as back up next year. We should sell Gayle as he is old for his type of player

  • G

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:00 PM

    Comment #2

    I feel far more confident of survival now than I did last week. The only downside is now we have 3 weeks to lose our momentum again. It seems every time we have a bit of momentum from a game and confidence is high we have at least a couple of weeks off to lose it. Really hope they prove me wrong in this case though.

  • martoon

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:02 PM

    Comment #3

    I bet Atsu is regretting recommending us to his ex-Chelsea team mate – it is probably Atsu who has been squeezed out by Kenedy!

  • DaveD1000

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:07 PM

    Comment #4

    Hibbit(previous thread) I’m agreeing with you mate. All I meant was when Staveley bid (supposedly) went in it was for PL team. Ergo Fatty hasn’t much of a case for bumping price up.

  • toonincheek

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:08 PM

    Comment #5

    If we are looking to kick on, then we have to regard
    Atsu as backup – unless he improves significantly.

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:09 PM

    Comment #6

    Come on City – 4 or 5 past Soke to make it a perfect weekend for the TOON along with mackems getting nowt and the HEED 7 – 1 winners.

    Have to get my horses sorted for Cheltenham

  • toonincheek

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:10 PM

    Comment #7

    DaveD1000 –

    I think the Staveley (reported) offer was accepting the risk
    that we may not have been a PL side next year.

    Take away that uncertainty, and the value has to go up.

  • hibbit

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:13 PM

    Comment #8

    toonincheek Re post 7
    but not as much of a rise as would have been expected it the TV monies had risen as well

  • DaveD1000

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:19 PM

    Comment #9

    As I understood it one of the clauses was a reduction or payback of 100m

  • DaveD1000

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:19 PM

    Comment #10

    if relegated damn machine cutting posts in half

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:21 PM

    Comment #11

    Last week a journo was on BBC Newcastle sport and he was asked about the Stavely deal.

    Can’t remember what he exactly said
    but in so many words she did not have the money and most of it was coming from various sources and hedge funds.
    and if she did they would have to put in another 100 million to buy the squad that RAFA wants

  • DaveD1000

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:21 PM

    Comment #12

    but hey I know nothing except the lads are doing well which pleases the wife and our cats.

  • DubaiMicky

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:27 PM

    Comment #13

    You must say though, our second goal on Saturday was an absolute masterclass and showed such great teamwork.

    I can’t see us being relegated now.

  • magscar

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:30 PM

    Comment #14

    Our Toon

    I can see why you and others are sceptical about Ashley working with Benitez but I believe there is the possibility of it happening. No not as fully as we would all prefer but at least to Rafa’s satisfaction if not total joy. I would prefer club to be sold to a better and more ambitious owner but what if that doesn’t happen at end of season.

    I set out last night why I think Rafa is desperate to stay here and why that has possibly led to him accepting the situation he has had to work in and yet still consider he could stay.

    If Ashley remains then he absolutely needs Rafa to stay as the armageddon alternative must surely be clear to him. It is a matter of Rafa and his advisors rejigging a new contract to further secure his position here. I believe he is in a strong bargaining position and whilst Ashley won’t like it how much choice will he have. If Rafa didn’t feel there was light at the end of the tunnel he will go at end of season but this hasn’t just become another job to him – he has invested in club and I don’t believe there is an equivalent open to him that would now suit him as much.

    If a new contract is signed then that must be good for us even if Ashley stays – not the best we may hope for but at least a position Rafa has negotiated as a platform to grow the club.

    If Rafa cannot be persuaded to stay on under Ashley then surely he will have to sell as the fallout will be like nothing seen before even KK’s going 2cnd time.

  • lochinvar

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:54 PM

    Comment #15

    So Carragher has been suspended by Sky.
    Carrick then announces his retirement from football at the end of the season.
    Wonder who’ll be a pundit for Sky next season ?
    Man Utd 1 – Liverpool 0

  • RobLeenio

    Mar 12, 2018 at 3:59 PM

    Comment #16

    I heard Carragher was offered a new job – Camel keeper at Chester Zoo.


  • Mister Tuff

    Mar 12, 2018 at 4:10 PM

    Comment #17

    I hear Carragher has been on Sky News explaining what happened etc.
    Does anybody have a link of this interview with sub titles so I can check out what he says.

  • A Pain in the Blog

    Mar 12, 2018 at 4:17 PM

    Comment #18

    Following on from yesterday’s conversation about our Spanish trip, the Chronic are now reporting that the lads are staying in San Pedro del Piñata, which is south of Alicante and about 20 or 30 km from Murcia.

    After a few days training we play Royal Antwerp next Sunday 18/03. New Zealand are playing Canada in the same stadium on the following Saturday so maybe the Iceland rumour wasn’t so far off the mark after all.

  • RobLeenio

    Mar 12, 2018 at 4:32 PM

    Comment #19

    Ah, Royal Antwerp – famous for a rare hat-trick by a certain favourite player of mine. Those heady days when we regularly competed in Europe and kicked many a backside…

  • magpie6699

    Mar 12, 2018 at 4:34 PM

    Comment #20

    I thought I saw Carragher in town the other day – but it may have been the spitting image though.

  • ronaldo aarons

    Mar 12, 2018 at 5:22 PM

    Comment #21

    Can’t carragher go down the Johnny Evans I spit all the time I dont even think about it route. Then get former teammates to say how he is a good lad etc.

  • sing in the corner

    Mar 12, 2018 at 5:53 PM

    Comment #22

    I wouldn’t be too concerned about the 3 weeks / momentum thing to be honest mate.
    Rafa knows the score. I’m sure he’ll stir up the lads in the training sessions as we get closer and when the lads next step out at St James against Hudds the crowd will be chomping at the bit and reminding them what’s gannin on.

    We are spot on with the timing mind ya…those two wins have buoyed us and floored the likes of Saints, Palace and not so happy hammers.

  • jane

    Mar 12, 2018 at 6:22 PM

    Comment #23

    tonights under 23 match postponed.

    “Following rainfall overnight, the pitch at the Lancashire FA HQ has been deemed unplayable.”


  • Ron Knee

    Mar 12, 2018 at 6:47 PM

    Comment #24

    Matt Ritchie possibly in action:

    Friday 23 March – Scotland v Costa Rica

    Tuesday 27 March – Hungary v Scotland

  • Tsunki

    Mar 12, 2018 at 6:52 PM

    Comment #25

    That’s a shame Jane. According to the new sky weatherman Jamie it was just spitting.

  • Tsunki

    Mar 12, 2018 at 6:56 PM

    Comment #26

    I’ve always thought Carra looked a bit like a llama.

    Plus there are those that carry the Liverpool accent in a wistful lilt, if one will. It can be pleasant and at least bearable with the right vocal delivery. Why Sky thought Carraghers nasal high-decibel military alert klaxon would be appealing who knows?

  • Tsunki

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:01 PM

    Comment #27

    Strange lack of maturity and a telling indictment of the entitlement culture of the modern high level footballer, it seems It’s a difficult job to school maturity into these fellows and the broadcasting arena is evidently no place to hone those skills either. In short they’re all a bunch of overpaid hooligans.

    Not generalising or nowt.

  • lesh

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:14 PM

    Comment #28


    If you think Ashley’s doing his best to help Rafa build the club up, you need to set some time aside to reflect on his behaviour over recent years.

    He doesn’t willingly communicate directly with Rafa; He’s made commitments to help Rafa but in reality, his behaviour over the last three windows suggests he’s trying to set Rafa up to fail.

    But Rafa, being the professional he is, has played things by the book by not rocking the boat and more to the point, has shown what a great coach he is by getting what he has out of the players he’s blessed with.

    If we stay up and I think we will, Ashley will have failed and if he recognised that, might just decide he’s had enough and get the hell out of our club.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:15 PM

    Comment #29

    Just for tonight. “Howay ManCity”

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:21 PM

    Comment #30


    Comment 22

    I’ll bet that their blogs are currently swamps of despair at the moment.

    Aint schadenfreude a loverly thing!! 🙂

  • Jib

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:30 PM

    Comment #31

    Lesh and Hibbit
    I think Ashley has done his sums and
    decided to stay and work with Rafa

  • Jib

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:38 PM

    Comment #32

    Oh the fun that happens on the shores of the Med in March

    John Arne Riise

    “We were allowed to go out on a team dinner on the last night and I remember Rafa Benitez told us we could have one beer.“Some had more than one…..,We had a private room in a karaoke bar. Bellamy kept saying: ‘Ginge is going up to sing’. I said: ‘No, I’m not singing. I can do a lot of things but singing is not one of them’.
    “Bellamy wouldn’t leave it. I kept saying: ‘No, no, no’, but he kept on annoying me.
    “When he grabbed the microphone and said again: ‘Ginge, is coming up to sing’, I went up to his face and told him clearly I wouldn’t be and to stop it.
    I left and went back to my room. I was rooming with Daniel Agger.
    When I heard the key in the door I thought it was Dan coming back but then the lights went on.
    “Next thing I saw was a golf club smashing me on my backside.”

  • magscar

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:54 PM

    Comment #33


    If you can re read my comment without your usual “twist anything into an anti-Ashley comment” approach on the Blog you will not find anything which remotely suggests that I think Ashley has done his best to help Rafa.

    You might however find remarks supporting Rafa notwithstanding his feeling he has been less than fully supported in recent windows.

    You might also read I would prefer him gone and if he doesn’t keep Rafa then he is facing an Armageddon scenario. Yeah I really think he is doing his best

    I wait with baited breath how you can turn this into a chance to regurgitate your anti-Ashley views regardless of what another poster posts.

  • sing in the corner

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:56 PM

    Comment #34

    Too right Bill.
    I wonder if Sparky is watching..and if so who is he rooting for?
    Neither I reckon, the grumpy old bugga.

  • Tsunki

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:57 PM

    Comment #35

    Egb @30 I have ventured on a couple of mackem haunts, showered afterwards though

    It’s as desolate as their stadium with as much faecal matter bring bandied about. Not a cheery place at all.

    Ha ha.

    He he.

  • sing in the corner

    Mar 12, 2018 at 8:12 PM

    Comment #36

    Neat goal for Silva inside 10 mins.
    This could be any scoreline now. Stoke look like a team of mainly big heavy lumps, just depends if City are in the mood to show boat or not.

  • Jib

    Mar 12, 2018 at 8:15 PM

    Comment #37

    I was going to rush to condemn Lesh
    for the usual Josef Goebbels stuff he/she
    does .
    then I thought nah
    Magscar’s a big lad he can defend hissel
    Well done
    Lesh must think we are all as stupid as Jail

  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 12, 2018 at 8:20 PM

    Comment #38

    What was that about Garth Crooks Jiblet 😀
    Ha ha you chump!

  • magscar

    Mar 12, 2018 at 8:22 PM

    Comment #39


    Each to their own but he really needs to stop seeing reds under the bed ( or more correctly blues?) each and every day- life and outook as a Newcastle supporter can be a bit more varied than the Jail and Lesh version.

  • Tsunki

    Mar 12, 2018 at 8:26 PM

    Comment #40

    Garth Crooksintroduces his team of the week.


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