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Mikel Merino Explains Why Rafa Benitez Is Such A Great Manager

Mikel Merino joined us in the summer of 2017 from Borussia Dortmund and wanted the move becasue he wanted to play more first-team football.

The Spanish U21 International was an immediate hit at the club and helped us to get a good start to the season through the end of October.

But then he was out for some time with a back injury and after that, he found it difficult to get back into the first team.

It seems like the lack of playing time in the second half of last season made him trigger a release clause in his contract and he was signed by Real Sociedad.

So it was just one season at the club for the Spanish central midfielder.

Mikel Merino in action for Newcastle last season

This is some of what Merino has said in an exclusive in the Chronicle today:

“Once I made the decision. Rafa called me. We were not talking for too long but he wished me the best,”

“I did the same and I still try to follow all the matches that Newcastle play. I’m still a Newcastle fan. I think I will always be one.”

“It was tough. It was not an easy decision for me. I miss a lot of things from Newcastle and the way they treated me was pretty awesome because I felt almost like I was at home.”

“The city was really beautiful and the people there showed me a lot of love. Not only the league and the football but the culture and everything.”

“It was great to have a Spanish manager who has made such a big impact in the game and in England with the fans.”

“I learned a lot of things: what I need to do and what I don’t have to do on the pitch. That helped me a lot.”

“Not only him but all my team-mates and of course in the league, every single match was special and you could learn something different from every training session.”

“I think that Rafa’s a very constant coach. He always knows what he has to do. He’s always on top of the players. He’s always taking care of every single detail with every single player.”

“It doesn’t matter whether you are the goalkeeper or the striker, he’s always taking care of you and that’s what makes him a great coach for me.”

It must have been a double blow to Rafa last season because not only did he lose defensive midfielder Mike Merino but our other young player in that position – Isaac Hayden – told the manager he wanted to leave Newcastle for personal reasons.

And so Isaac will leave us in the summer and an opportunity for Rafa to bring in another young defensive midfielder who he can develop on Tyneside.

That’s always assuming Rafa stays at the club, even though Mike Ashley will still be the owner in June.

We liked Mikel a lot and he played 25 times for Newcastle with one goal and one assist: it’s a pity we lost him.

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8 comments so far

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 13, 2019 at 3:43 PM

    Comment #1

    Bloody Mikel Bloody Merino


  • RobLeenio

    Feb 13, 2019 at 3:43 PM

    Comment #2

    Booby, good to hear you sounding chipper buddy. Hope you had some good news off your surgeon.

  • Bobbybee

    Feb 13, 2019 at 4:04 PM

    Comment #3

    He made a decision to leave and Rafa had no choice but to let him go, it was in his contract. Anybody who thinks he did have a choice just needs to look at how he’s handled Hayden. He doesn’t have to let Hayden go because he didn’t insist on a clause being added because he was happy to play for us. Merino wasn’t, he used us.
    Hayden has been told clearly that whilst Rafa understands his position and sympathises with him, he can only go when he has a suitable replacement. Hayden is obviously mature enough to understand that and hasn’t spat the dummy out like some players have in the past.
    Whilst I also sympathise with Hayden the sooner he can go the better. One, because I want him to be happy – we all deserve that – and two because I don’t want anybody here who doesn’t want to be here.
    We are Newcastle United. And I know the Southern bias wants us out of the PL – too far to travel? Aw, bless them – we’re a special club with special fans and anybody should be flattered we want them here. If they’d sooner not be here, I wish them all the best and if I was fit enough to do so, I’d drive them to their preferred destination. Nothing personal. I like how Hayden has handled the situation but family must come first whether we like it or not.
    Not sure why his partner can’t move to our wonderful city or area – she lives in Wales ffs what has Wales got that the North East hasnt? Welshgeordie9 can’t be that much of an attraction surely? 🙂

  • Online Guy

    Feb 13, 2019 at 4:17 PM

    Comment #4

    Some good news lads n carltoon (lasses)

    Done some digging at Newcastle City council …

    We got the map up of the land that Ashley has sold and is looking at development going ahead on.

    Well… There has been no planning application made at all…all the pictures you have seen in Media (papers) and online are fanciful drawings of proposed architects impressions and ideas of what it will look like if it ever goes up. The council has no such drawings and there is no planning permission been asked for or given to date

    Iv been told that as there is no planning application as yet we cannot object and as soon as there is a planning application in situ we can object. I’m told there will be the usual objections as is the norm .

    I asked if any person could object on the grounds of the City loosing amenity if any development of the Gallogate end was stopped or comprimised as regards extending the Gallogate end as StJames park is a gathering place and has been established many many years and therefore a given as regards public amenity . In short the answer was yes ! Anyone can object to a proposed planning application.

    To keep you up to date go to Newcastle City council .Gov Planning , and bring up the interactive map.

    Highlight the area around Strawberry place and you will see there are no planning applications on it or anywhere near to date. Keep an eye on it.

    I asked if any development would halt possible development of the Gallogate end and the answer was ..don’t know at this time.

    Think that’s it lads..n’ Carltoon.

    Iv spoke to Chi office today .. see next post.

  • Bobbybee

    Feb 13, 2019 at 4:32 PM

    Comment #5

    Rob, Booby indeed 🙂 Not sure mate. Booked me in for another mri scan and after that I need all sorts of tests to see if it will even work. Waiting for the scan is a further 3-6 weeks depending on availability of the machine.
    It involves seeing how collapsed the vertebrae are and then seeing if they can insert a ‘balloon’ in there and expand it, then fill it with a fast setting cement. Being fast setting is the danger because if they get it wrong… you can work out the danger from that. And being the spinal column, it can be disastrous.
    That said, I’m willing to take the gamble if I’m suitable because I’m going downhill rapidly. My back fractured after the City game – same night – and I’m no better yet. I’m usually back up and about by now but I could hardly get in and out the car to go to my appt yesterday. Been told to cancel all physio until after the mri scan too because the xray showed my spine has collapsed considerably and I could damage myself irreversibly if I ain’t careful. Not great, but if I can get in the car Saturday, I’m going. Ditto Tuesday.
    On the upside, if I am suitable for this operation, it could improve my quality of life immensely. I have been told not to get my hopes up, but I’m hoping they say that to everybody just in case.
    All this whilst reducing rapidly on morphine because I want off it. Nasty horrible drug tbh. It was fine whilst it worked but I’m immune to it now but you don’t just stop taking it. Ask any smackhead how hard it is. Been on it years. Effing nightmare mate. I’m getting there though. Already halved my intake, but you can’t rush it. I’ll get there, soon though. What painkiller I can use then though, god only knows. I’m putting a lot into this operation. Fingers crossed eh. 🙂

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 13, 2019 at 4:44 PM

    Comment #6

    Lol Booby – apologies, but it’s a good one….

    Sounds promising mate, though it’s going to be a while yet till you see some benefit. It’s drastic stuff, mind. Keep us all posted, it’s like our own little medical drama with some incisive footy commentary thrown in….

    All the best to you anyway. It sounds like the kind of thing you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

  • Online Guy

    Feb 13, 2019 at 4:46 PM

    Comment #7

    Chi Office

    They are watching ! They are very much aware and Chi is on the ball ..in fact the guys and galls in the office are mostly Newcastle Supporters.

    We discussed a scenario where offices and student accommodation went up opposite Gallogate end and the conversation turned round to the fact it could still be done as other clubs have done.

    I then mentioned old Trafford and the road that runs under a stand..so it was agreed but only as an idea, nothing concrete..sorry ! ( :

    Also depends which area is subject to development..there are 3 large parking bay areas opposite and I pointed out it was running off the west side of the Strawberry pub towards Barrack road ..and the fact that if any development went up there and Newcastle wanted to extend the Gallowgate end then the developers could possibly complain in future because of light issues etc.. not to mention Fire hazard, access etc .. also discussed the fact that any development of offices and Student accommodation proposed and built could hamper Fire Services to St James’ Park ..so any proposed building could hamper in the event of a fire at Gallogate end .

    It was agreed.

    Anyway just to reassure, Chi is watching .
    There has been no planning application to Newcastle City council .
    We can object if there is .

    If there is a planning application granted they have 5 years to complete.
    No one has applied and the drawings you have seen in the media are not official .

    We need answers from Ashley and a feasibility study to see if Gallowgate can be extended.

  • Jib

    Feb 13, 2019 at 5:13 PM

    Comment #8

    Errm sorry to piss on your chips
    OLG but Mash holdings accounts
    released today show Ashley sold
    the land for £9M
    So he couldn’t give a toss if you
    object or not
    It’s not his problem


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