Rafa Benitez has had a lot to put up with since he came to Newcastle.
He was unsuccessful in avoiding relegation, and that was a huge disappointment to start off his Newcastle career.
If we had avoided relegation in May 2016, he would have started with a better class of players – including Georginio Wijnaldum, Andros Townsend, Daryl Janmaat and Mousa Sissoko who is now playing well for Tottenham as their holding midfielder.
But we were relegated, and those players wanted out, although Rafa has tried to sign Townsend since we were promoted back to the top league in May 2017, but with no success.
The manager has not been supported financially by the owner, and there have been too many distractions off the field over the last 16 months of various takeover attempts.
All of them have so far been unsuccessful and there’s news Ashley is about to pull the plug on his latest attempt to sell the club.
But the papers have been flooded with press reports about what is – or could be – happening with these potential takeovers.
Rafa Benitez – in training
And now we have the winter transfer market in full swing but no sign of any players coming in after it’s been open for three weeks.
Rafa has been asked in the Chronicle if the takeover has had any ill effects on the pitch:
“Again, we try to keep these things outside of the pitch because they are not of importance to the players.”
“If you play against a team and you lose, people say: ‘Oh it is because of that.’ But the players, they do not worry about what is going on in terms of takeovers.
“Maybe the English players worry a bit more because they hear everything, but the foreign players like Ki Sung-yueng and Yoshinori Muto, they do not have a clue.”
“The players might watch the TV and see what people are saying, but they were focused on beating Cardiff.”
“The players are quite focused, and against Cardiff, they were really, really focused (and did not listen to the animosity against the owner).”
“The players, especially the foreign players, they are not bothered about what people are saying.”
“They are just worrying about what happens on the pitch.”
Rafa has used his immense experience in management to keep the players concentrating only on what’s happening on the pitch during both training and in matches.
With the Magpie Group starting up their protests again at our home games against the owner – hopefully, our players will be too professional to let that distract them from playing well – as they did last Saturday.
We need as many wins as possible in our seven remaining home league games to survive in the Premier League this season.
Wonder if we can sign any good players in the final 10 days of this transfer window?