It will be 10 years ago tomorrow when Rafa Benitez led Liverpool to a second Champions League final in three seasons against AC Milan.

When analysing the Liverpool team and squad of that era, it had very similar traits to the Newcastle United one we have just watched this season.

Liverpool, of course, had a very good team of players – but few stunning ones, apart from Mr Gerrard.

Rafa played 4-4-1-1 with Gerrard as the number 10 behind Kuyt.

He started with two wide men and Alonso in the Shelvey-type role, Mascherano in the holding midfield and a solid back four with energetic and tough players.

He also had a decent keeper.

liverpool

Even the bench looked similar in make-up with a big guy (Crouch) sitting there.

On paper, that 2007 Liverpool Champions League final team does not look like one. However, Rafa can make average players look good and good ones look great.

He gets the best out of everyone associated with the club, people love him and he knows his system works. His presence has an aura and people respect him.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2007 model at Liverpool and the Toon model last season will not be changed, it is about signing players to play in that model.

Does this make any difference to what we think Rafa will recruit in the summer?

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])



  • Paul Patterson

    We need a new No10 then for starters..

    • Peter Robson

      Agreed, but the fact was/is: Rafa built a squad to get us out of the championship at the first time of asking, I´m pretty sure he´ll know which areas to concentrate on !!

      • Paul Patterson

        Totally. The side is a work in progress. I think we can upset a few teams next season with the right additions and Rafa will know where to do this.

  • Patrick F

    Liverpool had a strong spine and players with a winning mentality. Gerrard was the key factor though.

    • Toon fan

      I think Newcastle struggled all season as we didn’t have a good enough number 10-type player. This needs addressed urgently

  • Jason Kilby

    You are in a great position – you’ve got Rafa! He really can do for you what he did for us. Good luck.

  • Doug Dacre

    If we can just stay in the top 10 that would be good enough for me, and most others I suspect……an FA/Europa cup would be nice however.

  • Leazes Ender

    What can he achieve at Newcastle….. Tenth…. with Ashleys leadership and Charnleys know-how……

    Personally I would call that the con of all cons as the ‘local’ press and club have conspired to shove a mythical ‘Rafalution’ down our throats.

    • Geordie-7676

      I would love to know what this is based on?

      How do you know that is all that can be achieved? The point of this article is highlighting that Rafa is capable of creating winning teams from good solid players….look at the difference in line-ups above. AC was full of world class players, yet Liverpool won. Why? They were a cohesive unit that played to each others strengths.

      We don’t need Ashley to plough billions in to the squad if Rafa is capable of bringing the best out of players. We arent winning the champions league any time soon, but top ten finish? Well within our reach.

      • Leazes Ender

        The financial positioning of the club has been also been the level of ambition… tenth. He does it every year…. its the reason Pardew came out with that blinder…..

        …’We can’t hope to compete with the likes of ….Southampton’

        The point of the article is as you say to show what a fantastic manager Benitez actually is….. with a side like Liverpool and a Captain like Gerrard….

        I expect a summer of pundits and fans trawling every bargain basement for bin dipping quality signings because they always do…. I expect Charnley and Ashley to do what they always do…. penny pinch…. and work down the list that Carr has identified…..

        If you really want a Rafalution it doesn’t come cheap and you don’t find it by competing with the cannon fodder of the premiership for that level of player…..

        That’s why it will be Tenth…. because the Rafalution is only a soundbite.

        • Geordie-7676

          I can’t argue with the past financial positioning. It was terrible, and should not of been the case.

          I categorically do not agree with your comment on Carr’s identified targets however. Rafa will be choosing who comes and goes. He will of identified his targets, Carr will of identified targets, Rafa will decide which ones to go for. If that wasn’t the case then as has been stated in several articles, including my own, he wouldn’t be here now.

          To finish tenth, or around that mark season, as a consolidation project would be a great achievement, then we can look further ahead.

          Do you really expect immediate success? It will take time to undo the mistakes of the past, but they can be undone, and it would appear that we are certainly on that road.

          ED: What we shouldn’t do is get too caught up in the financials…..Spurs have a net spend over the last 10 seasons of £1 Million.

          Ours is £47.5 Million.

          • Leazes Ender

            ..and the value of the squad hasn’t increased by £47.5….

          • Geordie-7676

            has Man Utd’s squad value increased by £529,460,000 in the last 10 years along with their net spend?

        • HarryHype59

          Well said!

    • hetonmag

      And you continue to spew out doom and gloom on this forum, why don’t you give it a rest because whether you like it or not the Rafalution has started.

      • Leazes Ender

        No it hasn’t….

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          i tend to agree with you, until we see the signing of some quality players the Rafalution is in neutral

        • HarryHype59

          Too many of our supporters don’t grasp the financial implications of going down last season and missing out on the best TV deal in Premier league history. Swansea got 60m more than Newcastle in TV money for avoiding the drop. That gives them a massive advantage regarding team strengthening. The ‘Rafalution’ next season will be a relegation battle and avoiding a third relegation in under ten years.

    • Porciestreet

      Why do you have to be such a totally negative Pain it the 4r5e……?

      • Leazes Ender

        Because most of you are deluded as to Ashley’s motivation… and the clubs direction….. even keegan was short changed by the Halls who extracted an awful lot of money from the club…. it would have been nothing to Ashley to put say £20 million a year into United and have some real fun with a football club….. but he chose to play skinflint Russian roulette….. and lost again and again.

        • Porciestreet

          It’s such a good job your’e not a mackem or you’d be suicidal….!

          • MichaelMaximusMoose

            anyyone who thinks we`ll kick on under Ashley is deluded

    • Brian Standen

      You keep going on about Ashley, we all know about him, so why labour your point over and over!
      But is the ambition any different to your glory days of the 70s, when let’s face it we won…..errr nowt ( and hated the board)
      The famous Leazes End even tried to hound out Joe Harvey in 1975 in favour of Jack Charlton ( what an embarrassment he was when he eventually came), but instead we ended up with Gordon Lee, Dickie Dinnis and Bill McGarry etc, oh yeah and lost the most exciting centre forward in Supermac!
      Tell me Leazes Ender were you as negative then because things now are just like they were then!
      In Rafa we have a chance to build a foundation for future optimism.

  • nevfur

    For now I expect Rafa to look mainly for quality but experienced players as we get established rather than too many non PL experienced players from abroad who are always a gamble. Not that he might not make one or two calculated gambles. Having said that I think he will want to target something better than just surviving by the skin of our teeth. His main system won’t change although that in itself can vary just by using different styled players within that system for example sometimes an attacking FB sometimes a defensive one. Expect players to pretty much fit that system and trust him to get it right.

    • Leazes Ender

      Yes….tenth is better than ‘by the skin of your teeth’…. that was the goal given to Pardew and probably the rest of the journeymen who Ashley appointed….. I can’t see Rafa sticking with that as a goal for more than a season…. so he’ll be off.

      • Toon fan

        6 points covered 8th to 17th. Top 7, not top 10, is the real gauge of success

        • Leazes Ender

          true….. unfortunately this season we’ll be wearing black socks…. so it’ll be the lower part of the estimate.

          • Toon fan

            Hooped socks are better

          • Jimblag23

            Still banging on about the socks eh? 😴

      • nevfur

        Didn’t every doom mongers say he would leave at the end of the season? Now it’s the end of next season. Keep trying, bound to be right eventually. Ever thought if being a Chronicle sports reporter lol

        • Brian Standen

          Nice one! Even a broken clock is right twice a day – Rafa will leave NUFC of that there is no doubt but it won’t be when LE predicts

    • KeithSA

      Rafa has a really good scouting system, he brought in Alonso, Reina, Garcia etc for very little money he will buy quality, if Ashley backs him. We had no money for him to work with and he still delivered despite all the sh..t he had to deal with behind the scenes. Wish you luck for next year

      • Leazes Ender

        He’s got Carr’s list

        • KeithSA

          As long as its not Pardews you will be fine:)

          • MadMag83

            Pardew claims he had no say in players, unless they turned out to be a success of course …

  • Rich Lawson

    Oh come on ! Yes he’s a good manager but there is just no comparison between the 2 teams other than formation ?

    • nevfur

      As he took over Liverpool as a top end PL team and Newcastle as a team on the way to relegation why would there be a comparison between the actual teams. The formation was always the point.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    i wont bother posting, Leazes has covered about everything

    • Wor Monga

      Including your good self…by the sound of it, mousey!!!

  • Wor Monga

    We’ve just been promoted, and already the floodgates of expectation are swinging open…articles asking can Rafa do this, that and the other, but ask yourself exactly how many fans of other newly promoted Championship teams would be expecting to see their clubs playing in the CL or the UEFA…or finishing inside the top 10 for that matter…none because they’re all just happy to have the chance to build, and improve going into the future…

    …the team we have needs rebuilding now, and it won’t be done totally in 1 or 2 windows, but Rafa will do it quickly…probably not as fast as he did at Liverpool
    because even average lower league British players cost more now than some foreign international superstars did 12 / 13 years ago, but if he can find or come up
    with the new Mascherano, Gerrard and Alonso and improve some of our talented young’uns like Shelvey, Clark, Ritchie, Lascelles, Atsu, Aarons and Darlow (like he always does at clubs) then I certainly wouldn’t put us challenging the higher positions out of our longer term reach!!!

    • HarryHype59

      I would take 17th position right now. The costs of getting relegated AGAIN, mean it will take three windows to build a decent EPL side.

  • MadMag83

    Are you seriously suggesting that Hayden, Shelvey and Diame are on the same level as Alonso, Mascherano and Gerrard?

    I’d be delighted if we get into the Champions League under Rafa but I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.

    • Geordie-7676

      That’s not what he is suggesting at all. What was being suggested, is at that time, they were not the players that they were to become…..Rafa builds. its what he does best. 3 world class players surrounded by decent players can defy the odds when managed correctly. That is what he suggested.

      We dont have those world class layers just yet, but we may in the future!

      • Jimblag23

        Agger, Riise, Reina and Zenden were top, top quality. Mascherano, Alonso and Gerrard were world class.
        It will be a long time til we have 7 players that could get into any team in Europe, which those could.

        • Geordie-7676

          Agreed, but we aren’t looking at winning the champions league any time soon are we, so those top top quality players are not what is needed right now.

          A league cup, an FA cup, coinciding with some top 10 finishes, competing with the fringes of top 7 would surely be classed as improvement for a few years would they not? then start looking higher.

          We are 5-10 years from being anywhere near champions league being totally realistic (unless some magnate comes and buys us out), so consolidation followed by gradual improvement should be success in the short to medium term.

          Our best bet in the immediate is to target cups! with our current crop of decent players (Darlow, Clark, Mbemba, Yedlin, Shelvey, Hayden, Ritchie, Gayle) plus additions we will be well within the possibility of cup success. Just not the champions league. Its all relative. The point is we CAN compete with mancity/chelsea/arsenal/spurs/man utd with rafa at the helm, but in cups and cups alone. The league will follow.

          • Damon Horner

            Rafa sees each game as an individual game and picks his best XI based on defence/attack/fitness for the next opposition and that approach inevitably leads him to become a cup specialist which is probably why he won the CL after never really coming close to the title.

            I’ve always said it will not be an overhaul this summer but more an uplift in quality for those positions we need it or based on who’s available. My only worry would be if we have enough goals in the team should Gayle get injured or struggle for form.

          • Geordie-7676

            Right now we don’t have enough goals in the team, which is why come august i don’t think the Gayle question will be an issue. I think he will be number two to a new striker.

      • MadMag83

        Gerrard carried that team to an extent though.

        • Geordie-7676

          Yes he did, but are we capable of having a player of Gerrards ilk that is capable of ‘carrying’ us in our consolidation project?

          I

          • MadMag83

            At the moment I can’t see many players in world football that are capable of carrying a team like that. Shelvey needs to add more goals to his game.

          • Geordie-7676

            yes, but it needs to be put in to context….we don’t need a player to carry the team at the level with which Gerrard did. We are talking world class player there, and we dont need that, it would be nice of course, but not a requirement right now.

            We need a player that is capable of carrying the team, but at the level we are competing for success.

            Shelvey would not be able to carry the team playing in the champions league, but he is capable of doing it in the cups, and against the opposition that we will be competing against for 13th to 8th place in the table, which is our realistic target for this coming season, and possibly the season after.

            After that ‘consolidation’ period, we then push and look to bring in better quality to try and break into the top 7.

            Whatever way you look at it, this isn’t a quick fix, and there is alot of work to be done both on and off the pitch.

            Shelvey is not going to add many more goals to his game, he just isn’t that type of player…..what we need is better quality around him that he can feed to….thats where he is best placed, pulling strings.

          • MadMag83

            In that case we need a good number 10 to add the goals. Next season could be the big test as most of the recent relegation strugglers have gone down, and there are lot of teams of a similar ilk to each other (Watford l, Bournemouth, West Brom, Palace etc).

    • Toon fan

      I am not saying we have players on a level with that team. What i am saying is the model is exactly the same. Rafa does not venture too much away from that formula. Virtually the whole team needs an upgrade

      • MadMag83

        Yes but in order for it to work to that level we need those kind of players (as you say) but can you actually see Ashley and Penfold signing players of that level?

        I think our best hope for a trophy any time soon has to be the league cup or FA Cup. We should have beaten Hull, then it would have been an average Man Utd side (by their standards) and a beatable Southampton side in the final.

        • Toon fan

          The summer is going to be important. Rafa will want to be pushing for European qualification asap. 8th to 17th has a 6 points gap this season and I personally think Rafa won’t be wanting to scrape a decent season but push on straight away

          • MadMag83

            I don’t personally think we would cope with the demands of European football without serious investment. It would be great to be back at that level though.

  • Sing in the Leazes

    It’s funny how a famous rock band always sounds like themselves and the same holds true for football managers. They don’t change their spots.
    There is a real feel of a system in our play now and this was true of his Liverpool side too.
    let’s hope that it brings some success and isn’t outdated now

  • HarryHype59

    Other clubs in our EPL mini league , Brighton and play off winners aside, have a massive financial advantage over NUFC as a result of getting the full TV money. Survival will be the main priority next season.

  • Blackburn1066

    The Boss ( Raffa ) has a three year plan (1) stay in the prem (2) win a cup (3) have us in the top six. The thing we must do is to give the man time to do his job he is a winner and if we stick with him I have no doubt he will get us over the line.