Rafa and his coaching staff did some great work last season, and several of our players are better now than they were at the beginning of the season.
They include players like young 21-year-old Sean Longstaff, who was born in North Shields and Manchester United are said to be after him this summer.
Sean was a revelation for Newcastle last season and looks to be a great player of the future in black and white stripes.
And a player who was born to play for Newcastle – Fabian Schar – had an excellent first season on Tyneside.
Sean Longstaff with Rafa Benitez
Sean went from unknown to an established starter
Not only is Fabian an excellent defender, but he can also score a great goal or two – as we witnessed last season.
Salomon Rondon on loan from West Brom had his most productive season ever in the Premier League under the guidance of our world-class manager.
Rafa also brought in some experienced Premier League players last summer in Federico Fernandez and Ki Sung-yueng – and they were both excellent additions to the squad and made a difference when it mattered.
And Isaac Hayden had his best season ever at Newcastle in his three years on Tyneside.
What an improvement from when the former Arsenal junior first arrived in the summer of 2016.
And since the 24-year-old came back into the side in December, he played every league game for Newcastle and looked excellent.
Unfortunately, it still seems we will lose Isaac this summer because he wants a move to be closer to his family in the southwest.
And last but not least, Ayoze Perez has had a breakout year scoring 13 goals with 12 in the Premier League for his best ever season at Newcastle, and he was excellent in the second half of the season.
This year Perez combined so well with Rondon and new boy Miguel Almiron who we’ll start to see the best of next season.
Perez will hope to soon to get a call-up for the full Spanish squad – that has to be one of his aims for next season.
New boy Miguel Almiron looks a typical Rafa Benitez player – he’ll work his socks off in every game for Newcastle and follow directions from Rafa.
It’s essential that Rafa keeps these three top players together for next season.
But there have been noises that Perez wants to move, and West Ham and Wolves are keen to pay the release clause of £16.5M to get Rondon from West Brom.
Rafa will have been successful if he persuades the owner to keep these three together at the club.
And of course, we had players like Matt Ritchie, Florian Lejeune, and captain Jamaal Lascelles who continue to perform well for us.
Let’s hope Florian recovers quickly from his second ACL knee injury in nine months.
But fans are all on tenterhooks at the moment.
That’s because we really don’t know what’s happening with the Rafa Benitez – Mike Ashley negotiations for the manager’s new contract, in spite of some positive reports being published.
Those are mainly from the local papers, who are desperate to keep Rafa onboard.
But who isn’t?