No, I didn’t believe the rumours.

Did you? Just another example of our ‘preferred media partners’ being fed a load of bull. What the hell is a PMP, anyway?

The definition of news is something that somebody wants to bury; what we get from Newcastle United is a series of transparently bogus statements and leaks. If you want to know the truth, don’t bother looking in the Mirror or at Sky Sports.

Such was my depression after the team’s lazy, half-arsed performances against Stoke and Bournemouth, the prospect of an improvement seemed as likely as Big Fat Sham discovering his modesty gene (or our former coach/patsy/Dutch impressionist selecting the right team and formation).

Mea culpa.

We have dropped the dead donkey and appointed a Champions League winner as manager.

Funnily enough, Big Fat Sham delivered his verdict on Rafael Benitez a few months back, saying our new boss should claim no credit for the Miracle of Istanbul. That was all down to the players. Let’s remember that typically hypocritical, self-serving Allardici analysis if, talking of miracles, a team managed by that buffoon ever win a trophy.

Anyway, back to the important things in life, such as our chance of avoiding relegation. A friend and former colleague has just emailed to say Newcastle are now 5-4 against to stay up. He reckons that’s a great price and is backing his hunch by lumping a load of wonga on Ladbrokes’ counter. I admire his blind faith (he has not seen us play this season) but fear his judgment.

I guess we are all wondering what difference Rafa Benitez can make.

Will at least half-a-dozen players suddenly prove they are far, far better than has been indicated by nearly all the available evidence, season after season?

Will the team show more attacking intent?

Will the shirkers be ditched?

We will know the answers by the middle of May. Perhaps sooner . . .

There will need to be nothing short of a revolution at and around St James Park if the good times are finally to become anything more substantial than Scotch mist. Here are three more questions for the new man to address:

  1. Why do so few youngsters from this hotbed of football (copyright Arthur Appleton) make an impact at the biggest club in the region?
  2. Who is calling the shots when players are hired or fired?
  3. How can expensive signings look world-beaters in their first few weeks/months in black and white, then disappear into the black hole of mediocrity our team have become?

Management is the art of building a team who exceed the sum of their parts; cajoling, encouraging, scaring the players into producing more than they thought possible. To do so, year after year, is almost impossible. Sir Bobby Robson was the best we have had since Keegan quit in 1997. If Benitez can recapture the excitement Robson memorably generated in his third and fourth seasons in charge, St James’ Park will again be a citadel of joy rather than a pit of misery.

For now, all we can cling to is hope.

Hope we can survive.

Hope Rafa Benitez can make a difference.

Hope the nightmare years will end.

But with the current owner/regime in situ, my head tells me there is nowt to look forward to . . . except same again (or San Miguel, as they say in Valencia, Madrid and Osborne Road).

Rafa Personalised Gifts  -