This coming Monday, March 11th will be the third anniversary of Rafa Benitez arriving on that Friday in 2016 to take over as manager of Newcastle United – from the just sacked former head coach Steve McClaren.
Rafa got 13 points from the final 10 games of that season (12 points from the last 6 games) but couldn’t save us from the drop.
But he showed his commitment to the Newcastle club, the City and the supporters by staying on in the second division.
How many world-class managers would do that?
Rafa got us promoted straight back to the Premier League in first place in the Championship – just beating out Chris Hughton and his Brighton team.
Rafa still doesn’t want to talk about his future until Newcastle are safe in the Premier League.
Rafa Benitez – still happy after all these years
But when asked about his three years on Tyneside during his press conference earlier today he said this:
“I am happy. The first few months we did not do as well as we wanted and could not save the team.”
“But then we got promoted at the first attempt which was good, we enjoyed it, then to finish 10th was a great achievement.”
“Hopefully it is the same this year.”
“They (Everton) have good players and it will be a good game if they approach it with their mentality.”
“Everton have confidence after the Liverpool game, they worked so hard against one of the best teams in the league, so they will come here with confidence.”
Rafa has done a great job since we were promoted in May 2017, with very little help from Mike Ashley.
If we can finish in the middle of the table this season perhaps he will agree to stay on as the Newcastle manager.
What Rafa does like at Newcastle is the freedom he is given with the team, the training and selecting of the side – there’s no interference at all from Ashley.
That hasn’t always been true at other clubs he’s managed like Inter-Milan and Real Madrid.
He’s left alone to do his job – which he does expertly, and he’s a workaholic and perfectionist.
Mike Ashley is the big problem as far as the manager staying on long-term.
Rafa wants cast-iron assurances from the Newcastle owner on things like sufficient transfer funds, investment in the training pitches and the Youth Academy – and he may not get them.