Rafa Benitez was universally welcomed by Newcastle fans when he arrived at St James Park and everything we have seen since, has confirmed that the belief in him wasn’t misplaced.

The other question though of whether Mike Ashley left it far too long before replacing, is another one that gets a pretty much unanimous answer from supporters.

Leaving it until only 10 games remaining after a season spent almost entirely in the relegation zone, always made it look a tough call for the new manager, no matter what qualities he brought to the job.

Now Rafa Benitez himself has been asked the obvious question, whether he thinks Newcastle would still have been in relegation trouble if he’d been brought in earlier.

The former Real Madrid manager was very diplomatic about the mess Steve McClaren has left for him to sort out…:

“I think it’s not fair if I say something about that… time is always important for any manager.

“We are where we are and we enjoy this challenge right now and we’ll try to enjoy it until the end of the season.”

“When we came we had a lot of injuries, we lost Rob Elliot and Massadio Haidara, who could have been an option.

“We were playing with Vurnon Anita at left-back and now we have to play him at right-back.

“There were too many problems but the reaction of the players and the work every day in training is making a difference.

“I can give them a message but they have to go out on the pitch and perform.

“Anita was a little bit tired with stiff legs but we needed to take the risk (against Crystal Palace) and he did really well for the team.

“These are the things maybe people don’t notice but it was a massive effort and one we really appreciate.”