Happy Birthday Rafa – Manager Talks About His Potential Newcastle Future

Rafa is 58 today so a big Happy Birthday to the Newcastle manager.

He will be at home in the Wirral, Cheshire and will be able to celebrate it with his wide and two teenage daughters.

After our fourth win in a row in great style against Arsenal yesterday Rafa has again been asked about his future and whether he will stay at Newcastle when his contract runs out next year.

He has said there will be plenty of time for that discussion over the summer, but there are things that need to be done at the club for the manager to agree to sign a new long-term deal.

How much transfer money will he get from Mike Ashley this summer, and will there be people coming in soon to try to buy Newcastle from the owner – who says he wants to sell the club.

And the club is now safe from relegation so things are a lot less complicated than they were before Christmas.

Rafa Benitez and Arsene Wenger on touchline yesterday
Looks like Rafa is about to throw the ball at Arsene

So there are still many questions to be answered, but other clubs will have seen just how good Rafa has been this season and may come after him.

West Ham are one of those clubs.

This is what Rafa has said when asked if he would stay at Newcastle long-term – as reported in the Chronicle today

“We will see.”

“Obviously, it is too early because we have just finished but we have plenty of time to talk about ideas for the future,”

“As I have said before, if everything is right, it is a good opportunity but everything has to be right.”

“We started learning without too much experience for some players in the Premier League.”

“And little by little we were growing and, especially in this second part of the league, the team has grown in confidence.”

“We were so good in a lot of things that in the end, I think we deserve to be where we are.”

“Some people were dreaming that maybe we could be here, but they were not awake.”

“We were awake, we were believing from day one and we have achieved what we wanted.”

“We were not expecting to be in the top 10, but at the same time we were dreaming, but we were awake and thinking that we could do it.”

“If you see the way that the players were working for every single ball, and the fans and all the staff.”

“Everybody was pushing in the same direction and that is the key when you want to succeed in something.”

That was our first win against the Gunners following 10 successive defeats and our first win at home against them since back in 2005.

It will be interesting to see how many points we can get in our final 5 games  – 9 points will put us on the 50 points mark for only the second time since Ashley bought the club 11 years ago.

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Comments welcome.

31 comments so far

  • Geordie-john

    Apr 16, 2018 at 11:25 AM

    Comment #1


  • RobLeenio

    Apr 16, 2018 at 11:30 AM

    Comment #2

    Happy Birthday Rafa – not sure calling his missus his ‘wide’ is very complimentary, Ed!

  • bettyswallocks

    Apr 16, 2018 at 11:34 AM

    Comment #3

    Great result and performance from the lads. One man epitomises the work ethic and desire that has been instilled by Rafa and that is Mo Diame. The ground that man covered right up until the final whistle was nothing short of amazing.

  • DaveD1000

    Apr 16, 2018 at 11:40 AM

    Comment #4

    Happy Birthday Rafa the Gaffa

  • bettyswallocks

    Apr 16, 2018 at 11:46 AM

    Comment #5

    A very good analogy of Perez by Rob Leenio on an earlier thread. As Perez has demonstrated numerous times this season his ball retention and dribbling is not good enough for him to be a winger. Neither is he a natural ten or likely to be a prolific lone striker. However with the work rate he has displayed recently and with his confidence restored somewhat, Rafa has obviously told him to focus on finding space in dangerous areas as oppose to running into trouble with the ball and losing it.

    When there is pace on the ball as oppose to having to generate it himself, Ayoze is a master at playing it first time and redirecting the ball to an opponent or goalwards with his deft flicks as he showed us brilliantly yesterday.

  • RobLeenio

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM

    Comment #6

    Thanks Betty, those two examples yesterday were really good examples of the flicks and tricks that he was so pilloried for earlier in the season, but when they come off they completely take out any defenders near him and can leave the keeper flat footed.

    Rafa has taught him awareness of when these kinds of tricks are appropriate and when he should be looking to retain possession, as he did for JonJo’s goal last week. This is helping him to mature into a far more effective player which is great to see.

    He’ll be 25 in the Summer, which is when an attacking player should really be reaching their peak years. I’d expect him to show a bit more consistency over the next couple of seasons and hope to see him reach double figures for goals and assists.

  • lochinvar

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:03 PM

    Comment #7


    Rafa and Mrs. Rafa
    Love the dancing but please have a word with the staff (early part of video) as they’re wearing their black and white shirts the wrong way.
    Got to keep the standards up ya knaw

    I’m nipping out to Greggs to see if they have a new range of Tapas

    (all with smiling faces)

  • RobLeenio

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:09 PM

    Comment #8

    Micky, there have been numerous of these complimentary newspaper articles re Rafa and the lads over the last couple of weeks. It’s great to see them and I like the fact they are all acknowledging the difficulties Rafa has been facing from the club administration.

    It leaves you wondering where the hacks are that were calling us out earlier in the season, the writers who thought we were deluded or a failing club or were having a go at us for showing faith and trust in our manager and players to turn things round.

    No matter, we’re on the up and there’s no room for bitterness and recriminations at the moment. I remember the whole of football uniting behind Leicester a couple of seasons ago as they challenged the established top 6, similarly Newcastle under Keegan, Blackburn under Dalglish (to a lesser extent). It would be great if we could begin to earn similar levels of respect.

  • DubaiMicky

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:32 PM

    Comment #9

    Indeed RobLeenio, I think it’s called “The bandwagon”.

  • DubaiMicky

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:46 PM

    Comment #10

    Just read this:-

    “Well if results go our way and we can win the last few games we could finish 6th”

    Theoretically yes, Arse need 3 points and Burnley need 5, both from 5 games, so I think the best we can possibly hope for is 8th.

    I don’t see why we can’t get it, as long as we beat Everton.

  • Jib

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:49 PM

    Comment #11

    Paul Merson says don’t be worried about Rafa
    signing for Arsenal . Benitez’ footy is not
    entertaining enough for the N Londoners

  • lochinvar

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:55 PM

    Comment #12

    We gifted Everton 3 points at SJP and can’t change that but a three point reversal of that result would have had the table looking even better.
    Goodson always seems a nasty place to play because they have a chip on their shoulder because of their Red neighbours but getting a good result there based on football and not bad refereeing or theatricals which they displayed at SJP would be welcome, it’s overdue. Don’t think they’ve much to play for and Allardyce will be out their door at the seasons end much to their fans relief and probably their players so let’s see if we can maintain our momentum.

  • cyprus

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:56 PM

    Comment #13

    What a wonderful dilemma for Rafa.

    To try other players and plays, or go with a winning 11.

    To enjoy the rest of the games, see where it takes us.

    Love it. What four wins on the trot can do for Newcastle United.

  • Little h

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:57 PM

    Comment #14

    Never been a massive perez fan and most of the time ive been of the opinion hes not prem standard.. give me a spoon ill eat those words… hes seems to have a role of his own not sure what it is but hes doing it well #humbled

  • Jib

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:58 PM

    Comment #15

    Rafa Benitez is the ideal manager for Newcastle
    but it is also the perfect club for him

    Luke Edwards in the Telegraph

    There will be doubts, there will be concerns, there
    will probably be tension behind the scenes and
    possibly even the occasional row with the men in
    suits who have always frustrated him in football,
    but Rafa Benitez should stay at Newcastle United
    because he will not get a better club.
    There are bound to be temptations.
    There might even be offers to lure him away.
    He wants to compete for silverware, he does not like going
    into battle against the other stellar managerial names in the
    Premier League with a knife when they are armed with guns,
    but he has something he will not enjoy elsewhere.

    There is no doubting the magnificent job he has done in his second
    full season at St James’ Park. The Spaniard has been like superglue,
    picking up a broken football club, shattered into tiny pieces by the
    inconsiderate and downright careless nature of owner Mike Ashley
    and putting it, delicately but perfectly, back together.

    It might not match some of his other achievements,
    but it has given him just as much satisfaction and
    it is one of the main reasons he will regret it if he quits.
    He has players who listen and learn.
    They are in awe of him just as much as supporters.
    A young team full of hungry players who want to do
    the work he asks of them, is not a given elsewhere.

    Newcastle are never more dangerous than when they truly are United.
    When the city is behind its football team it like a juggernaut with a jet engine attached.
    The momentum can feel unstoppable and that is the power Benitez has harnessed.

    It is also why, I believe he will stay on as manager, despite the doubts he has about working for Ashley. Benitez has something unique at St James’ Park, he has the adulation that every manager craves.
    It has happened to Newcastle before under other popular managers. Kevin Keegan had it, so did Sir Bobby Robson and now Benitez has fired up the engine. He is a superb manager, but he is also more than that.
    He is a unifying presence. He is the standard bearer for the troops to rally around, the General everyone is willing to follow, not just in the stands, but in the hugely influential local media too. Anyone with even the remotest understanding of football must appreciate the job he has done.

  • Dave76

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:03 PM

    Comment #16

    Really pleased with the season so far. The passion, fight and desire we wanted is now there.

    After looking back through the fixtures ( i might be a little biased) i really believe we have not got what we deserved in games for example everton, Bournemouth, brighton and Swansea at home and Southampton, Bournemouth,Huddersfield and brighton away.

    I cant think of many games where we got points we didn’t deserve.

    With a bit of luck and a clinical striker i think we would have been top six pushing top four or am i just biased

  • West Lancs Geordie

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:04 PM

    Comment #17

    Very many happy returns Rafa. You should be given the freedom of Tyneside. You have done miracles in turning round this squad of once called Championship players. Everyone of them has stepped up to the plate for you & given you 110% effort. Now Mr Cashley, do the right thing & repay Rafa’s loyalty by agreeing a good deal with Amanda & sell the Club. We now want Rafa to take this Club to the next level but this can only be done without your involvement.

  • lochinvar

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:17 PM

    Comment #18

    Mohamed Diame: I was laughed out of court when I suggested Rafael Benitez has the ability to bring titles to St James’ Park. Well, he’s not won the Premier League with this group of players – but how he’s amassed 41 points with games to spare.

    Garth Crooks Team of the Week includes

    Mo Diame who is among the many players Benitez has rejuvenated at Newcastle. Not since his days at West Ham have I seen the Senegal international look so fit and in such good form. Against Arsenal, Diame was outstanding, as were the entire Newcastle team. What a pity the Magpies are not in the hands of someone who really appreciates what this club, their supporters and their manager have to offer.

    Did you know? Diame covered more distance than any other Newcastle player against Arsenal (11.5km).

  • lesh

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:34 PM

    Comment #19

    As has been said by numerous posters many timed, the ball’s very much in Ashley’s court if he truly wants Rafa to stay and carry on with his work in restoring Newcastle United into a financially and competitively sound club.

    In recent reports, Rafa’s explained how he sees the Club recruiting and developing young players through the academy unit – which in itself needs an upgrade – will, over time, reduce the need and therefore the reduced higher costs of recruiting average experienced players each year. He sees developing the academy to recruit young players plus recruiting older but young players for development freeing up money to go for top players to improve the team. Prior to Rafa’s arrival, Ashley has, when he’s sanctioned spend, limited the Club to maintaining an average squad which would never be able to realistically compete for trophies – something Rafa wants to do.

    But, Ashley is not one for high spending and as we’ve seen at the Club and can see in his SD outlets, he’s a one for minimum spend, low risk high return on his investment. Rafa will be hoping to see a complete change in Ashley’s approach to the Club’s financial management and strategy before he commits to extending his stay. But, can we realistically expect the current owner to change? I think not.

    We can only hope that a white knight rescues Newcastle United, declares ambitions commensurate with Rafa’s and commits to take

  • DubaiMicky

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:35 PM

    Comment #20

    I’m not sure that Rafa wants a change in ownership.

    Keep Ashley, let rafa run the ship with Charnley and be given a budget each year (everything the club generates in revenue) and let him get on with it please Ashley.

    (And, as you know, I’m no fan of Ashley).

  • lesh

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:36 PM

    Comment #21

    Post 19, continued (for whatever reason, it was uploaded prematurely)

    ….We can only hope that a white knight rescues Newcastle United, declares ambitions commensurate with Rafa’s and commits to take the Club to new heights on the field.

  • RobLeenio

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:39 PM

    Comment #22

    Micky, Jib, bandwagon pieces they may be, but I don’t half enjoy reading them….

    I’ll be very interested to see an opinion piece from the Independent, given their ownership in part by Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel who is linked to the Saudi Royal Family.

  • West Lancs Geordie

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:43 PM

    Comment #23

    Diame & Shelvey have been immense since the turn of the year. If Southgate does not take him to the World Cup he’s mad. No other England midfield player has the vision & execution that he has. He is the man right at the top of his game. How can you compare ex Mackem Henderson in the same class as Shelvey?
    But as good as Rafa & his players have been towards the later part of the season, the future still looks bleak if Cashley insists on piling on the misery for us. Sale negotiations need to start NOW!!!!
    We also need to tie up permanent deals for Dubravna, Slimani & Kennedy NOW. Don’t wait for other clubs to come in. Get deals done early

  • lesh

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:47 PM

    Comment #24


    I think I’ve responded (@19 & 21) to your @20 post before you posted it!

    Will ever see Ashley’s Damascene-like awakening to the folly of his ways of running Newcastle United? It’s a big ask but…..

  • twotonearmy

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:55 PM

    Comment #25

    What kills me is that Ashley can look at these results and say “see! job done, you don’t need any money to spend” and thats a very scary thought. People are talking about how much money we generated this season and how Ashley surely has to give Rafa a big wedge of that but lets not forget when we finished 5th and only signed Anita. There’s a real possibility that he tries to push this team along another year, send the loanees home and try to just loan a few more players to keep stuffing the coffers with money that the team will never see.

    I will admit though that I think many teams in the prem went mad this year with money. They went out and bought average players for highly inflated prices and they didn’t think about squad unity. Rafa on the other hand has been building up this team of young misfits and turning them into a unit that works together. That may make the difference for one season but next year I think a lot of teams will snap back and it will be a struggle to keep up with the pace.

    Please Ashley, don’t gamble with another one of our seasons…

  • Oldgit1

    Apr 16, 2018 at 2:03 PM

    Comment #26

    @ dubaimicky nice to see someone who 2nd team is West Brom, my dad was called Albion, Albi for short by my grandad who we suspect was from the area. My dad then gave the name to my brother as a middle name as he was first born. My dad was a Newcastle fan bless him.

    Happy birthday Rafa hope it’s a good one. Please stay with us.

  • Nicky the ball tosser

    Apr 16, 2018 at 2:05 PM

    Comment #27

    Ashley’s been pretty good at puting the profits back in. Rafa can feel confident enough about that. But it’s the borrowing against future earnings where the rubber is most likely to hit the road. The new training centre, a marquee signing. Hard to get Ashley to fund these things, but you do need to do it to make that step up to the next level. Wiping your own nose won’t cut it. You need to speculate to accumulate at least a little, and build the stature and with it the net value of the club. I’m sure Rafa and Ashley d not see eye to eye on this.

  • Oldgit1

    Apr 16, 2018 at 2:07 PM

    Comment #28

    @ two tone army some good points there mate

  • DubaiMicky

    Apr 16, 2018 at 2:19 PM

    Comment #29

    Thinking as a business owner, I can understand Ashley’s reluctance to spend money they don’t have (I hate debt, my small co now works on a zero debt model, things were different a few years back and we had to borrow from banks, but they rip you off the world over, so from 2015 everything loan wise stopped, and I’m better off without them), having said that I’ve not had to refurbish or replace buildings etc, all i have to pay is rent, bills and wages basically. Thing is though, if Ashley wants to get the best possible return when he does sell he needs to invest/not take money out/pay for advertising etc.

    I think (and hope) that Rafa has painted a picture of a 1,5 and 10 year plan for Ashley, and Ashley can leave in 5 years time with a Billion pound pay off, with a £200m total investment (£40m a year over 5 years).

    Now that, as a businessman, would interest him.

    Let’s see what happens.

    Oh, fyi, I had a chat with my mate at PCP here last night, he said there is no bid on the horizon (and he was pissed, so in vino veritas) – I’m certainly NOT itk.

  • DubaiMicky

    Apr 16, 2018 at 2:22 PM

    Comment #30

    @Oldgit #26, I was married to a Baggies fan, lived in Staffordshire, her, her father, uncle, the whole family were baggies fans, I was the taxi driver.

    However the fans are very similar to Geordies, the Black Country is named because of the furnaces and metal working industries (no shipbuilding, but plenty of engine works etc.), there is a lot of camaraderie between the two sets of fans.

    Just don’t ever say they’r from Birmingham.

  • West Lancs Geordie

    Apr 16, 2018 at 2:35 PM

    Comment #31

    Most of the blog today seems resigned to the fact that Ashley will stay & not try to sell up. That would mean same old, same old & no progression but more frustration for the long standing faithful fans.If West Brom, Stoke & Southampton go down as seems likely, Ashley is confident Rafa can keep the team ahead of poorly supported (in Comparison to us ) sides such as Swansea, Brighton, Huddersfield,Watford,Bournemouth & even Palace, Liecester & Burnley (Who have over performed under Dyche). The three going down will be replaced by the likes of Wolves, Cardiff & perhaps Fulham or A.N.Other.and apart from Wolves are worse than the teams being relegated.
    We need an owner with ambition & much much more investment to be assured of a top 8 finish at the very least.
    I don’t think Rafa will sign a new contract if a secure ambitious ownership is not in place.
    The future should be especially rosy after Rafa’s 2017/18 miracles but it’s not


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