One reason Rafa Benitez has been so successful as a football manager is that he leaves nothing to chance.
And players who have played with him over the years say that he goes down to the minutest of detail when he prepares for each game.
He has also been successful because he is a teacher at heart – and he enjoys making a player better as each day he tries to improve every player he has in the squad.
Players like Dummett, Schar, Lejeune, Rondon, Hayden, Ritchie, Lascelles, Yedlin, and others will attest to being better players now than when Rafa first started to coach them – so almost three years ago.
And Sean Longstaff has made extraordinary progress under Rafa’s guidance this season – Sean already looks a top player at Newcastle.
Rafa Benitez – we are still not clear of relegation
This is some of what Rafa said yesterday during his press conference:
“Now it is easier to watch and analyze games, but still we are doing the same. What does that mean? That football has changed and you have to adapt, so you have to change things.”
“It’s been fine (at Newcastle).” “I like to coach my players and I like to compete during the games, to try to do well and win.”
“In the Championship, it was a great achievement; I’m talking about that because people said we had the ‘strongest team’, but look at this season.”
“It’s so difficult to do that and we did it.”
“After that, we finished 10th. The challenge for me as a manager has been really good. Hopefully this year will be the same.”
“People were saying before the West Ham game that we are nearly there, safe, blah, blah, blah.”
“You could be – but then you lose one game and we have to play against Everton, who are a good team, and then we have to play against Bournemouth.”
“In a couple of weeks, we could be close to the bottom three.”
“You have to realize how important it is to get the points and then we will analyze the other things.”
Rafa still seems to be concerned about possible relegation and he’s right to be that way since things can change so quickly in football.
One thing in Newcastle’s favor today at home to Everton is that the Toffees can be inconsistent.
So after their excellent 0-0 draw at home to Liverpool last weekend and our poor display at West Ham in the 2-0 defeat – maybe we can turn the tables?
Certainly, if we play somewhere near our best today we should be able to take something out of the game.
A win would make it five successive home wins and that shows some real momentum as we try to remain in the Premier League.
And 80% of fans think we can take something out of the game with half of them thinking we can win this game.