Wednesday evening finally saw the confirmation of the news that we have been longing to hear; Rafa Benitez will be staying on as manager of Newcastle United.
Despite every flaw that has befallen the club over recent years, culminating with the inevitable relegation to the Championship, there is a buzz around the city and the club’s fans that hasn’t been felt for a very long time, certainly not since I started following the club.
There is finally a full confidence among fans that Newcastle United can again stand tall and make our fans proud, and what I love most about it all, is that no other football fan can stand it.
Rafael Benitez was never supposed to take over Newcastle United at all, those deluded Geordies were idiotic for believing it would happen. But then, all of a sudden, as the appointment was confirmed, Benitez was no longer the “Champions League-winner who would never trade the Galacticos for the Gallowgate”, he was now a man who had “failed in every job he’s had.”
As it would turn out, Benitez’s appointment would come too late and Newcastle would still slip into the Championship.
The abuse and mockery that quickly followed was expected, but to the extent you wouldn’t be questioned for thinking two more sides actually went down with us.
Many of you may have seen the video courtesy of 442oons that made the rounds around social media soon after relegation was confirmed. To be fair, I found it amusing, but at the same time, where were all the videos, tweets, songs, banners and airplanes mocking Norwich’s relegation?
Newcastle aren’t a big club after all, so why do we get all the stick while Norwich are almost applauded back into the second tier? Strange one, isn’t it?
Then we had the final day of the season, and with it an exceptional game that saw Newcastle run away 5-1 winners against (at the time) the supposed second-best team in the league. Neutral football fans wouldn’t dare let Newcastle supporters have a sense of pride about them, so we’d all be quickly reminded that Benitez wouldn’t be staying with us next year, and we’d slide into Championship abyss without hope of return.
That day was probably one of the proudest I’ve ever felt as a Newcastle fan, the atmosphere and togetherness of St. James’ Park to watch their relegated side stroll to victory, and the unavoidable devotion thrown to Benitez to get him to stay. I thought it was pretty special, but Gary Lineker went to describe the ground as “muted” on the evening’s Match of the Day, so what do I know?
Again, Benitez was too good for Newcastle United, and would quickly be moving on from his stint at St. James’ Park.
We did all we could to hang on to the hope that we could convince him to stay, and that’s exactly what we did.
Now, of course, we’re foolish for wanting Rafa to stay. We’re mocked for begging the man who “took us down” to stay.
People really hate to see Newcastle fans with any hope or optimism, but this time, it’s even worse. Under Benitez, who now has control of every football-related matter at the club, we have a huge platform to rebuild and regrow as a club, and we might just have a great future ahead – and others simply cannot stand it!
Of course, we’ve all been lulled into a false sense of hope before, but I get the feeling that the club are starting to learn from their mistakes. They’re now aware that their profit-chasing, controlling ideas to run the football club simply do not work.
They’ve given Benitez everything he wants to get him to stay. To me, that says something. I could be made to look like a naive idiot again, but I’m praying they can prove me right.
I’m shocked to find myself saying this so soon after all that’s happened, but I can’t wait for Newcastle United again.
You can follow the author on Twitter @RhysMelhuish22