Reflecting on a year inside the madness that is Newcastle United, Rafa Benitez has looked back on the highs and the lows.
The United boss says that ‘the main thing’ is that now ‘the club is going in the right direction’ but it has taken some turning around.
Looking back to what he thought from the outside, before he agreed to take the job. Rafa Benitez says that he never realised just how bad things were.
The Newcastle Manager saying ‘When you see from the outside, you think this and that, but when you are here you can see the problems from inside, and think, ‘Hmm. Maybe it was a difficult task.’
Thankfully he wasn’t frightened off by the mess he discovered and has spent the past 12 months trying to pull NUFC back on course, after Ashley, Carr, Charnley, McClaren, Pardew, Carver and others, had done their best to wreck the good ship Newcastle United.
Talking about what a really big, really great, club is all about. Rafa Benitez says that the starting point is seeing all of the fans making the effort and spending their money to support the team home and away – but that it also goes beyond that.
The NUFC supremo saying that when you walk around our city ‘everybody is loving the club – the name of the club, the stature of the club’ and that is so important if you wan to be a club that succeeds long-term.
Newcastle fans have always known that if somebody can get it totally right, then there is unbelievable power to harness.
Both Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson showed to a large extent what is possible, could Rafa Benitez be the one to take it all a step further.
“It has been a great experience and I think the main thing is to see the team, and the club, going in the right direction.
“Everything is going well,and hopefully we can continue in the same way.
“My idea is not to enjoy the anniversary too much but to be sure we are ready for (the Fulham) game, that we are where we want to be at the end (of the season).
“The first (objective) was to try and stay in the Premier League. We couldn’t.
“When you see from the outside, you think this and that, but when you are here you can see the problems from inside, and think, ‘Hmm. Maybe it was a difficult task.’
“We were unlucky, because of the games we had at the beginning. Leicester were doing really well, Sunderland and Norwich were teams with us, and maybe with a little more time, it could have been different.
“But, at the time, we couldn’t react – we had a lot of injuries, we had just arrived, and we needed to manage. After that, we knew more or less where things were going wrong and tried to change things.
“I think we have changed a lot but still, we have to keep changing things and try to be sure we are more consistent in terms of the performance of the team.
“Before I came, everybody was talking about a massive club, a massive city and fans behind the team, and that is clear.
“You can see at every away game and every home game that we have a lot of fans there, but even in the city, when you go walking around, everybody is loving the club – the name of the club, the stature of the club, and that is really important if we want to be stronger.
“In terms of pressure, when you go to a top side, that can happen. People say, ‘Ah, but you are in the Championship.’ Yes, but still, we are talking about a massive club.
“It is something we have to realise – we have to have the winning mentality that you need, but at the same time, we have to be humble and keep working hard, because that is the only way."