Chancel Mbemba has been talking about his first year at Newcastle United.
Hopefully not to be also his last year, with claims yesterday that Fiorentina are keen on recruiting the Newcastle defender this summer.
Mbemba says that whilst relegation was a nightmare, to play over 30 Premier League matches in his first season in England was ‘fantastic’ for him.
Arriving at our crazy club in the midst of total chaos, Chancel Mbemba proved to be easily United’s best defender, though sadly not enough to prevent it being overall yet another calamitous season in the goals against column.
Mbemba is full of praise for Rafa Benitez who took over for the final 10 matches, the DR Congo international pointing out the manager’s qualities, as well as his pedigree at clubs like Liverpool and Real Madrid.
However, rather strangely the United player also says of the Newcastle boss ‘I’ve worked with a lot of coaches over the last few years, and Rafa is one of the best’.
Assuming that all of the scurrilous claims about his age are untrue…the only coaches/managers that Chancel Mbemba has worked with regularly at club level are:
Steve McClaren – Enough said.
Besnik Hasi – Sacked this year at Anderlecht after two years in the job and now off to the Polish backwaters of Legia Warsaw.
John van den Brom – Took Mbemba to Anderlecht from DR Congo in 2012 and then was sacked less than two years later. Previous to Anderlecht he had managed small clubs in Holland including Vitesse Arnhem and Den Haag, now he is back in the Netherlands with AZ.
Out of that select group I would hope Rafa Benitez is by some distance the best, though I wouldn’t mind finding out where Mbemba would place Steve McClaren…
To make comparisons, it is like somebody saying to Mbemba that he was one of Newcastle’s best defenders last season!
Chancel Mbemba talking to the official club website:
“On a personal note, it’s really good to have worked with him (Rafa Benitez). I’ve worked with a lot of coaches over the last few years, and Rafa is one of the best.
“He is absolutely fantastic. He’s a Champions League winner, he’s managed Real Madrid, he’s managed Liverpool and personally, I think he’s really helped me improve as a player.
“It’s really important. The coach, when you look at him, is like a teacher – he watches everyone, all of the players and he gives you the confidence to go out there and do what you do best, so I would like to thank him a lot for that.
“I played a lot of games last season. It was my first season here and I played 30-something games and that was really fantastic for me.”