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Rafa Benitez Talks About Star Newcastle Player – Who Reads The Game So Well

We hardly hear of Rafa Benitez these days – as he’s managing in China.

But he does write an article in the Athletic every week, and in those articles, he talks a lot about the players and the last club he managed – Newcastle United.

In his column yesterday, Rafa talked about a player whom he thinks can eventually become a coach because he reads the game so well and understands the game.

That is Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka who we signed for a measly £4M from Sparta Prague last year after an excellent loan spell at the end of the 2016-2017 season.

What a steal.

Martin is a good talker on the field, commands his box well, and is always very positive.

He is also an outstanding goalkeeper who we hope will soon sign a lengthy contract to stay on Tyneside.

The Slovakian talks a lot – both on and off the pitch – and he has been a leader ever since he arrived at Newcastle in January of last year.

Martin Dubravka with Rafa Benitez in 2018

This is what Rafa has said in the Athletic about Dubravka and why so few goalkeepers seem to into management:

“Being able to see and read the game – being able to think quickly – are important qualities for a manager.”

“I’m speculating now, but that’s why I think Martin Dubravka, who was our goalkeeper at St James’ Park, could become a coach.”

“That’s my feeling. He understands the game.”

“People rightly will point out that not too many keepers become managers but I wonder if that’s because in the past they tended to train separately from the rest of the team.”

“So they would have less involvement in terms of the sessions, tactics, positions and things like that.”

“Not long after I arrived in England, another manager came to Liverpool’s training ground at Melwood for a meeting.”

“When I asked him about a goalkeeper, he said, ‘Oh, well, he kicks the ball a very long way.’

“He didn’t say he was agile, made good saves or was brave. Just that he kicked the ball very far. That’s what it was all about back then.”

“In some teams — I will not name them — their keepers would have most passes in the final third of the pitch.”

“Times have changed. With keepers having to play with their feet more now, they have much more direct involvement.”

“In turn, that will help them learn more about tactics. In theory, they should be good managers because they have a much better position than anyone else to see what’s happening in a game and to analyze it.”

“Usually, they’re intelligent. With Martin, you could see all that. Perhaps, in the future, he will put that to use.”

“I feel the same way about Petr Cech, another intelligent and thoughtful goalkeeper.”

“It’s interesting that he has become Chelsea’s technical and performance advisor because although this kind of pathway is common in Spain, where players quite often go on to become technical or sporting directors.”

“It is still rare in England, where it’s often manager, coach and that’s it. Historically, there have not been so many options.”

Rafa Benitez appears to be wasted in China – surely a man of his ability should still be managing in the Premier League.

Oh well – that’s water under the Tyne Bridge now.

Martin Dubravka will be in goal for us at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

And if we can play as well as we did at home to Manchester United last time out, then we could well get a surprise win.

Although now many fans think that will happen.

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What do you think?

Comments welcome.

20 comments so far

  • martoon

    Oct 17, 2019 at 3:31 PM

    Comment #1

    That’s something I’ve never thought of before that not many goalkeepers go on to be managers in fact I’m struggling to think of one. Which is strange as they are used to standing watching the game in front of them albeit from a different angle!

  • hibbit

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:07 PM

    Comment #2

    martoon what abut our very own Willie McFaul 😀

  • Jib

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:13 PM

    Comment #3

    Gazza’s manager at Lazio
    Dino Zoff

  • Jib

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:14 PM

    Comment #4

    Nuno Espirito Santo

  • RobLeenio

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:15 PM

    Comment #5

    Nuno Espirito Santo was a ‘keeper.

    Not sure how I know that, one of those random facts I guess.

  • hibbit

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:18 PM

    Comment #6

    another one from the Toon Tommy Wright

  • RobLeenio

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:22 PM

    Comment #7

    Peter Shilton was a (pretty awful) manager, between retiring as a player and coming back to get his last few games needed to make 1000 professional appearances.

    That one was from Google


  • hibbit

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:24 PM

    Comment #8

    and another ex toon goalkeeper John Burridge

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:25 PM

    Comment #9

    Dunno if you want to re-read comment 5! 😉

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:29 PM

    Comment #10

    I’ve put us down for a win, mixture of optimism and hope based on the ManU game.

    And surely Miggy has to get his 1st goal for us.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:37 PM

    Comment #11

    So if the bus has stopped for a while I’ll re-post this.

    I’ve emailed the following to the email address that JohnJ gave me for the planning officers in Newcastle, hopefully it will get to them.

    The Planning Officers
    To whom it may concern I would like to formally object to the planned development of Strawberry Place reference number as above.

    My objections are:-

    1 It would prevent any further development of the Newcastle United Football Club by the present or any future owners of the ground to the detriment of the fans and impinge on the possibility of a successful team competing in European competitions.

    2 St James Park is a city icon that stands out on the skyline of Newcastle and the proposed building would seriously affect it’s aesthetic aspect.

    3 Building a high rise property directly adjacent to the ground must seriously compromise safety aspects to both the fans or other members of the public on match days or other events.

    4 The club is the heart of the Newcastle area to both local and exiled fans and the loss of potential future facilities that would be of benefit to the Tyneside community would be an insult to them.

    Please reject this planning application.

  • martoon

    Oct 17, 2019 at 4:39 PM

    Comment #12

    Yes I should have remembered Willie Mcfaul who for some reason was known as (Will)Iam when he played but Willie as a manager – no jokes please 🙂

  • cyprus

    Oct 17, 2019 at 5:27 PM

    Comment #13

    Martin must be alert for 90+ in the next game. He’s made a couple errors, but keepers’ mistakes are very visible.

    He’s good, but I think he still needs work to be among the best in the PL.

  • IrishRob

    Oct 17, 2019 at 5:38 PM

    Comment #14

    Ed you’re a breath of fresh air, I love when I see your name under the posts, just wish you were able to post more often.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Oct 17, 2019 at 5:47 PM

    Comment #15

    He was the inspiration for the Black eyed peas Will. I am

  • geordietom

    Oct 17, 2019 at 5:55 PM

    Comment #16
  • Jib

    Oct 17, 2019 at 5:58 PM

    Comment #17

    Jail for Ashley
    how would you know ?
    the team you were watching then was managed by McMenemy and Stokoe

  • geordietom

    Oct 17, 2019 at 6:05 PM

    Comment #18

    the link i put on above is the black eyed peas …

  • Lee Charnley Bunga Party

    Oct 17, 2019 at 6:14 PM

    Comment #19

    Interesting that Rafa also mentions Shelvey as someone who likes to talk a lot about football and tactics there is no doubting Shelvey’s ability but unfortunately you need more than that in the premiership now!

    Unless we could get a better team to play around with him but it seems more likely that the need for energy in midfield is more important?

    Bruce could certainly play 3 in midfield with the Longstaffs and Hayden in the middle snapping at teams similar to the way Liverpool’s midfield 3 operate

  • JohnJ

    Oct 17, 2019 at 6:43 PM

    Comment #20

    If I recall correctly Harry Gregg former Manchester United keeper was also a manager?


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