Before a single ball has been picked in anger, Rafa Benitez has already picked up one accolade ahead of the new season.

The Newcastle boss has been called the best Manager to take charge in the second tier since the late, great Brian Clough.

In a choice of the best managers in the EFL (English Football League), Rafa Benitez comes out top.

Respected long running football magazine FourFourTwo have also named former United boss Chris Hughton in third place, following the excellent job he did at St James Park and at the clubs he has managed since that ridiculous sacking by Mike Ashley in 2010.

Newcastle United actually feature in all three top positions, as former NUFC assistant manager Nigel Pearson is in second place.

FourFourTwo are glowing in their praise of Rafa and they say that the Spaniard’s willingness to try and sort out the total mess Ashley has created at St James Park  ‘…shows immense belief in his own ability to create a legacy’.

They also say that managing at similarly mad clubs such as Real Madrid, Inter and Napoli ‘…stand him in good stead for the intensity of life at St James Park’.

The full Top 10 is below and then the excellent FourFourTwo write-up on Rafa Benitez.

Top 10 Managers in EFL (English Football League):

(1) Rafa Benitez (Newcastle United)

(2) Nigel Pearson (Derby)

(3) Chris Hughton (Brighton)

(4) Gary Rowett (Birmingham)

(5)  Mick McCarthy (Ipswich)

(6) Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (QPR)

(7) Keith Hale (Rochdale)

(8) Alex Neil (Norwich)

(9) Paul Tisdale (Exeter)

(10) Roberto di Matteo (Aston Villa)

The FourFourTwo write-up on Rafa Benitez

‘Not since Brian Clough has the second tier witnessed a manager of this calibre.

To some, installing the Spaniard as our No.1 before his first match at this level might be a tad presumptuous, but his track record in the 2000s with Valencia and Liverpool puts him head and shoulders above the likes of Kevin Keegan, Harry Redknapp and Steve Coppell – names that would dominate any Championship managerial hall of fame.

Rafa’s stock has steadily declined since departing Anfield in 2010 but stints with Inter, Chelsea, Napoli and Real Madrid stand him in good stead for the intensity of life at St James Park.

The 56-year-old just wants to manage a big club in the old-fashioned way, and his willingness to accept this particular challenge shows immense belief in his own ability to create a legacy.’