When Rafa Benitez first arrived at Newcastle, he was sure he could save the club from relegation.
But we had something like 13 injuries at that time.
And that’s something common at Newcastle for the last 20 years – we always had too many injuries – and a lot of hamstring injuries.
So when he arrived at Newcastle on Friday 11th March Rafa was struggling to find a left back, and in his first game in charge, Jack Colback played in that position, and Anita started on the right wing.
Shelvey and Kante challenge for the ball
Here is the team in that first game on Monday night 14th March at Leicester City – a game we lost 1-0 – and the Foxes went on to be Champions that year:
Janmaat Taylor Lascelles Colback
Anita Shelvey Perez Wijnaldum Sissoko
Substitutes: de Jong Saivet Townsend Darlow Doumbia Riviere Sterry
Of that team, only Lascelles and Perez started our last game at Bournemouth, and the lineup has changed big time.
Rafa has brought in players who want to play for Newcastle, and before he signs a player, he has his staff ensure the player is of the right character and temperament.
When you do that we have seen that Newcastle play like the fans want them to play.
They are proud to wear the shirt and never give up in any game.
This is what Rafa has said in the Chronicle today about how we lost some good players through relegation and how he has rebuilt the squad:
“We lost very, very important players when we were relegated. You see they are now playing in the Premier League .”
“Townsend, Sissoko, Janmaat, Wijnaldum. They are good players.”
“We lost something but, little by little, we were building something new.”
“What do we have now? We have a team that we know, and everybody knows, that every player cares, and everybody is focused – all these things. So it is different.”
“I am not saying it is better or worse, but it is different. Those players, they were very good players in the Premier League, but in an environment, that was not ideal.”
“These players are in an ideal environment at the moment.”
“And maybe you are missing some of these players that had the experience and the quality to make a difference in the Premier League.”
We hope Rafa will stay on at Newcastle – we think he will, but you never know with Mike Ashley still the owner of the club.
What do you think?