Rafa has been interviewed in the Chronicle today as he looked back to when he first arrived as the Newcastle manager on Friday, March 11th, 2016.
When he arrived he held a training session in the afternoon and that was a message to players that the hard work begins now.
It was a blow when he couldn’t save us mainly because fans thought Rafa would leave.
But after the love affair between Rafa and Newcastle fans had grown quickly, he agreed to stay on Tyneside.
For a manager of his world-class standing that was a massive courageous decision by Rafa and showed the innate confidence, he has in his own ability.
It also shows how he loves a challenge – like trying to get Newcastle straight back up from the Championship.
He did exactly that of course and with little help from Mike Ashley over the last 15 months he has Newcastle now in 10th place in the Premier League.
An amazing two years work from the Newcastle manager and he has guaranteed Mike Ashley will get at least £300M for Newcastle United.
Rafa has looked back at when he first arrived and this is what has said to the Chronicle:
“It was a difficult time back then because we didn’t have players in certain positions.”
“We didn’t have a left-back or a central midfielder because there were injuries.” “We had to change a lot of things after that for the Championship.”
“We did that and did well. Then we were promoted to the Premier League and had to change again.”
“The majority of the decisions have been right, there have been mistakes for sure, but the majority have been right.”
“We’re going in the right direction.” “We still have to guarantee the 40-point mark.”
“For sure. It is massive and where we are at the moment is a place where we can play with more confidence.”
“The risk here is our confidence. Everybody needs to understand the reason we are in the position we are because everybody has worked really hard.”
“The players, staff, fans – they have all worked really hard.” “Now it’s just the final push to make sure we don’t make any mistakes.”
“After that, we can enjoy it and see how far we can go.”
When you see somebody who is the best at what they do – whatever that may be – there’s something about them when they talk about their business.
It’s fascinating and we saw that with Sir Bobby Robson when he talked about football.
Rafa is the same – he’s got that passion and belief and when he talks about anything to do with football people listen.
If they don’t, they should.
Newcastle United are extremely fortunate to have Rafa as the manager.