A stunning 18 match run has come to an end for Rafa Benitez.
Under the likes of Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve McClaren, Newcastle fans came to expect that if things were going badly in the first half, you had very little expectation other than it was going to get a whole lot worse after the break.
Their ability to think on the spot and make tactical changes, or alter the flow with inspired substitutions, was almost non-existent.
Then Rafa Benitez arrived.
He didn’t have a magic wand to improve everything in an instant and win every game – but the stats since he came to St James Park show an undisputed ability to intervene during matches and improve the team’s output.
Going into Saturday’s match against Wolves, these were the scorelines in the 18 matches since Rafa arrived – in the second 45 minutes:
Leicester 0 Newcastle 0
Newcastle 1 Sunderland 0
Norwich 2 Newcastle 2
Southampton 1 Newcastle 1
Newcastle 2 Swansea 0
Newcastle 0 Man City 0
Liverpool 0 Newcastle 2
Newcastle 1 Palace 0
Villa 0 Newcastle 0
Newcastle 3 Spurs 1
Fulham 0 Newcastle 0
Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 1
Newcastle 3 Reading 0
Bristol City 0 Newcastle 0
Newcastle 1 Cheltenham 0
Newcastle 1 Brighton 0
Derby 0 Newcastle 1
So in the second halves of Newcastle’s games, the stats read 10 wins, 8 draws and zero defeats, with goals scored 23 and goals against 5.
Just to show that everybody can have an off day, even the best in the business, Rafa got it wrong in the second half on Saturday.
The second period saw a scoreline of Newcastle 0 Wolves 1 as United looked clueless as to how to get back into the game.
One off day in 19 isn’t too bad…and I look forward to normal service being resumed on Tuesday night.