Benitez Rafa has been interviewed again by his friend Guillem Balague, this time for the BBC’s Football Daily podcast.
Rafa has talked about some of the big games in his successful football career, and at Newcastle, he picked out the final game of our relegation season three years ago at home to Spurs.
The fans and Mike Ashley were trying to get Rafa to stay, and he had told the owner that he didn’t have time to talk to him before the game because he was busy preparing the side.
We were already relegated by then.
Tottenham were battling Arsenal for second place and a draw Newcastle would have made them runners-up to Leicester City.
But we beat them 5-1 and had only 10 men for the last 25 minutes of that game after Mitrovic had got himself sent off.
It was a fantastic game for Newcastle and Rafa was left in no doubt the Geordie fans just loved him and begged fit to stay on – and he did.
This is what he told Guillem Balague about that during the podcast:
“The problem we had when we arrived was we just didn’t have time.”
“We thought ‘massive club, a massive stadium, fans behind the team.’ Everything was right, but we had 13 injuries when we first arrived.”
“The fans were another thing that made you think ‘this is a massive club, and you can do something with these fans behind you.’
“That was a key factor in my decision to stay.”
“I was talking with Mike Ashley after the game, and he was asking me ‘what do you want?'”
“We were talking about what we thought was needed to win promotion back to the Premier League.”
“We didn’t realize how difficult it would be in the Championship.”
“But our team was solid, we were strong in defense, and we were fine in the attack.”
“That’s the key – if you want to win trophies, you have to find the balance.”
“We finished 10th in the Premier League last season, and now we’re talking and waiting to see what we can do in the future,”
We’re now in almost the same position three years later with Rafa’s contract up at the end of June.
Our last home game is against second top Liverpool – who are in second place one point behind Manchester City.
It’s going to be some game – seen live around the world a week tomorrow.
We are hoping Rafa will see once again how much the fans want him to stay at the Tyneside club.
Mike Ashley needs to give Rafa what he wants to stay and then we’ll all be happy.