In Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United now have a manager whose instructions the players must follow to the absolute letter, without hesitation – and that also goes for us, the fans.
Benitez must receive total and utter respect from the players and they must give absolutely everything for him.
Alongside that, we as fans must follow our new gaffer; he has asked for our help and has asked us to create the most supportive atmosphere possible for the players, in which they can thrive. This is exactly what we must follow through with.
One of the mandates for the players with Rafa in charge is to apply themselves 100% tactically; to take in everything he asks of them and to carry this out on the pitch, with army-style subservience. The other mandate for the players is to play with confidence, belief and with what I’d say is an expressional looseness when in forward positions. This brings me to one aspect that everyone in this battle faces; the battle taking place in the mind.
It is one that the players can win – and we as fans can help ensure this.
Starting in the derby we must create constant decibel-breaking noise during every minute, as instructed by Rafa – and our belief must never waver. Even if you are looking at the pitch and think you witness signs that the players’ belief is wavering – ours must not.
Be the inspiration, be the example. What might look like a player’s head dropping must be responded to with the opposite reaction from ourselves; we can extract belief out of them. Things can turn around in an instant and the platform for that absolutely must be provided.
Whatever gripes we have had with the players over this season (and more) must be set aside for this run-in. Whatever happens, any inquests are for two months’ time – not now.
If we want this club to stay up and witness a new direction that we can get behind, with Rafa Benitez as manager, then as part of the collective we ourselves must also perform to our maximum and dig deep when needed. That means the most vocal, defiant and supportive St. James Park witnessed.
Against Leicester we would have previously folded after conceding but we didn’t. We should have taken a point and we did have chances to score; Perez in the first half should have given us the lead, Sissoko’s header, Mitrovic/Sissoko should have scored instead of the mix-up which occurred and De Jong had a clear chance near the end.
Against fifth placed West Ham at home we should have been 4-0 up by half-time, the same applies to the West Brom home game not long after, both of which still each garnered 3 points in the end.
With help, these players can win games. Rafa is one part of that help and he will be upholding his end of the bargain, working 24/7 to improve the team. As the 12th man, we must also uphold our end of the bargain.