Rafa Benitez has been here ten minutes and he has already transformed our club.
There are many momentous consequences arising from his appointment and in my view they are all irreversible. This is the most utterly fantastically and almost transcendentally good news.
It is the best time to be a Newcastle fan since that night against Barcelona.
Rafa Benitez is quite possibly the best manager we have ever, ever had.
Here are the big changes that have just taken place before our disbelieving eyes:
a) Mike Ashley has had to change his dingy, unambitious, and dreadful business practices, probably against his will, and certainly against his instincts. And they will have to stay changed. This in itself is virtually incredible.
The last time I was this astonished, pleased, and slightly emotional was when Martin McGuinness stood laughing alongside a wisecracking Rev Ian Paisley.
b) We have a manager, not a coach. A manager manages. Rafa Benitez is not going to be like John Carver. Benitez does not get along with interfering overlords. He is the only possible overlord at clubs where he has ever been the manager. He takes interference in the same kind of spirit that Ashley takes a request from MPs to go to Westminster. In the context of that ponderous, risible person who might be thought of as a possible interfering overlord at Newcastle, this is an exceedingly positive, desirable, and frankly essential development.
c) Rafa Benitez has brought along his entire staff. If ever there was a declaration of intent that things were going to be done his way, the way he was used to, and not the way anyone else was used to, this is it.
d) There was no delay in ratifying his appointment. Once there was a handy (from Benitez’ point of view) suggestion in the press that Rafa might have been having second thoughts about talking to Newcastle, Mike Ashley was on the next flight home and Lee Charnley was sacking McClaren. And once Ashley met Benitez there was no wriggling. Plainly Ashley has given Benitez everything he asked for.
e) Ashley is now over a barrel. Rafa Benitez is holding him there, and his heel is on Ashley’s fat throat. This is the most exceedingly pleasing development of all. Of course Ashley is still the owner, and of course he won’t loosen the pursestrings to the extent of bankrupting himself, but the true value of Newcastle United as a Premiership club to our selfish and wilfully perverse owner has been revealed. It is immense.
Ashley has shown he is not up for another relegation disaster and consequent promotion battle the season after. There’s too much going on in his tawdry little empire. Newcastle just have to stay up. Benitez, I think, is sure to achieve that immediate objective, and Ashley knows it.
f) An initial three-year contract is of course not an eight-year contract, which has been Ashley’s favoured contract duration.
Ashley won’t want to pay off another managerial millionaire should things go wrong, but equally Benitez won’t have been holding out for an eight-year contract, which he will regard as the hallmark of the insecure journeyman.
I suspect Benitez might be very pleasantly surprised at the extent of the adoration that will come his way if he is half-successful at our club. He might begin to see Newcastle as a project, in the same kind of way Arsene Wenger has seen Arsenal as his life’s work. Of course, Benitez is already 55, but you can see what I’m driving at …
g) Ashley, surely, will have had to guarantee another round of expenditure in the summer. He will be delighted if he has to spend a lot of money, because that will mean Newcastle will still be in the Premier League. And of course he will be getting it all back from Sky and BT. But the players Benitez will sign will be rather different from the players Alan Pardew might have signed.
h) Lee Charnley has been crushed, and will stay crushed. Mike Ashley too, though he will stay rich. Ashley has been crushed in a way that will, I think, make him want to stay even further away from Newcastle’s day to day affairs.
i) I have made many predictions of an imminent sale by Ashley of the whole club, and they have all been wrong. I’m not sure, but I don’t think Benitez’s appointment makes it more or less likely that Ashley will sell.
This appointment of a world class manager is an unambiguously superb development and, of course, bewilderingly astonishingly unexpected, even if widely foreshadowed in the media. I didn’t believe it would happen.
Our club has changed already, no matter what now happens. Mike Ashley cannot backtrack. He has failed, he has admitted he has failed …
…and now HE HAS CHANGED!!!
Surely our club will now change too. And become successful.
Howay the lads!!!