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!!