When Rafa Benitez confirmed that he was willing to stay at Newcastle United and oversee a (hopefully) instant return to the Premier League, there was one puzzling negative reaction.
Some of the media claiming that because Rafa had won the Champions League and was used to managing the likes of Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Valencia, he could struggle to deal with managing in the second tier of English football.
This of course ignored the fact that Benitez had successfully managed in the second tier of Spanish football early in his career, plus surely it would/could be a worry only if you were looking at the opposite case scenario – an inexperienced manager getting a job at a top/successful club.
Surely if applying the same high standards as if he was at Real Madrid, why would he struggle to be successful?
The transfer market was always going to be a massive factor and indeed it is in reality where 99% of managers succeed or fail in a job.
After the window closed, Rafa Benitez declared:
“Promotion has to be the main focus so we had to build a team with that as the priority.
There is no sense to be building for the Premier League if it means we don’t have the right players to get out of this division.”
Rafa Benitez has overseen 14 players brought in on permanent contracts, one arriving on loan, 11 of the Newcastle squad finding a new permanent home, with 16 going out on loan and a decent number of those set to never be seen at St James Park again.
It is a phenomenal transformation at the club and as his words above prove, a single-mindedness on simply getting the job done first time this season and then everything will/would then flow from a promotion.
Looking at the profile of a typical Rafa Benitez signing this summer, couldn’t be more different to the expensive risk strategy of previous years where vast sums were spent on young foreign players in the hope they might be worth a few quid more one day.
The pragmatic Mr Benitez is certainly in control and changing the mission statement of Newcastle United, hopefully for the long-term as well as this more immediate recovery mission.