It is a simple, and cheap, tactic to devalue the job Rafa Benitez is doing at Newcastle United.
Whilst the United boss does get credit for Newcastle being top of the Championship, it pretty much always comes with…’which is no surprise considering they were a Premier League in all but name and the amount of money spent etc etc’.
Maybe a good time to really give credit for the job Rafa Benitez has really done, as outside the Newcastle fanbase there will always be this thing of well it was only to be expected.
Relegated with Newcastle United, Norwich are six places and 15 points below NUFC, with Aston Villa 15 places and 30 points behind.
Norwich City retained their Premier League team of players, only losing Nathan Redmond, whilst Aston Villa have spent a lot more money than Rafa Benitez has.
The decision to buy 11 players and one on loan with a view to a permanent deal, was foisted on the Newcastle boss anyway.
He had no choice but to reinvest some of the money after Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Townsend, Coloccini, Janmaat, Thauvin and Cisse all wanted to be away.
Add to that: the likes of Riviere, de Jong, Obertan, Marveaux, Doumbia, Taylor, Mbabu, Saivet and Krul all left, either permanently or temporarily.
What else was Rafa Benitez supposed to do?
Not spend any money and fill his squad with inexperienced kids?
The reality is that with notable exceptions such as Gayle and Ritchie, the money that was spent was spread around low to medium transfer fees that brought in players to do a job this season, mostly with relevant experience of the second tier. With the hope that some of them would also prove good enough to do a job if bouncing back to the Premier League.
You only have to look at recent team selections to see clear proof that this season hasn’t been built on Rafa Benitez splashing mountains of cash on a whole new first eleven that would guarantee promotion
This is the Newcastle United team that played Wolves:
Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback, Shelvey, Gouffran, Diame, Mitrovic
Elliot, Hanley, Gamez, Hayden, Atsu, Perez, Murphy
In that starting eleven. only four were brought in by Rafa, then for the following game at Norwich, Perez replaced Diame and that meant only three Benitez signings were selected.
Looking at the subs though for Wolves above, five of them were Rafa signings. Further proof that the Manager needed to spend money on a squad, rather than having the freedom to buy a team of superstars.
So the secret of Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez’ success this season has not been down to just money talking and new signings magically doing the business without any help/guidance.
What has been done is Rafa improving and working with what he inherited from the mess he took over.
Three things he has definitely added are discipline, organisation and a will to win. Three characteristics that were sadly lacking under Pardew, Carver and McClaren.
Yes this is the second tier but to have scored more goals and conceded less than any other club tells you the story, as well of course as the fact that more wins and points have given Newcastle top spot in the table.
If Newcastle get promotion then given the right backing and freedom in the transfer market, there is no reason to believe that Rafa Benitez can’t bring in higher quality players to add to his squad, then work with them and the better players in his current squad to make what could be an excellent team/squad to face the challenges of the Premier League.
Like Chris Hughton before him, Benitez has done everything asked of his so far, and no reason why he won’t deliver as Newcastle United move forward.
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])