Maybe the player who has benefited most from Rafa’s three years at Newcastle is captain Jamaal Lascelles.
Jamaal was a young bit player under former manager Steve McClaren when Rafa arrived on Tyneside, but Rafa played him in the first team immediately.
Rafa also became quickly aware of Jamaal’s leadership skills and his love of the club and made him captain when he was just 22 in the following summer of 2016.
Lascelles led the team to promotion from the Championship the next season, and we found out he had been playing with a groin problem since October of that season.
Not surprisingly Jamaal is adamant that for the good of the club – Rafa has to be kept at Newcastle.
Jamaal Lascelles signs a new contract last November – Rafa Benitez looks on
This is what he has said as reported in the Chronicle today:
“We’ll try to do anything we can to seal this manager down to a contract,”
“If it means us getting the job done and getting as safe as possible, then excellent.”
“We’ll just concentrate on our football, and let the rest take care of itself.”
“He has helped me throughout my career. As a footballer, as a captain and as a man, I’ve really matured.”
“He must have seen something in me that he liked.”
“Since I’ve had the armband, he’s looked after me and helped me. He’s guided me in the right direction.”
“I just follow instructions, and my personality and my characteristics do the rest. I thank him for everything I’ve learnt from him.”
“I think last year we made a bit of a mistake when we were safe and took our feet off the gas a little bit, and we lost four out of our five last games.”
“We need to make sure we’re safe. There’s still a lot to play for, and we’ll try and finish as high as we can.
With Cardiff losing their previous two games Newcastle have an excellent chance tomorrow afternoon to beat Crystal Palace for our 6th home win in a row, and that should be enough to ensure safety.
Then Newcastle will make a big push to sign Rafa to a new contract.
Failure to do so will cause significant disappointment, anger, and confusion among Newcastle fans.
And that’s a huge understatement.