Hope. It’s funny what happens when you get rid of the monkeys and put someone with half a brain and a bit of charisma in charge. Step forward Rafael Benitez Maudes.
“The fans have been a major factor in my decision. The first thing for me is the fans, the stature of the Club and the future. So I have seen all of these things together. I said in my press conference that I came here because of that and I could see these things every day and especially the last game.”
So this was an appointment by the fans, for the fans, make no mistake about that- WE did it. The club may pay his wages but the fans are the reason he is here.
No doubt Rafa came to his decision after careful consultation with his family and even the younger occupants of the Benitez household can see where their dad is wanted and respected. His two young daughters are reported to have said-
“Dad, you cannot leave these people, they love you. You have to stay.”
You can’t kid the supporters around these parts and Rafa has understood this and it’s only took him a matter of weeks, something that Derek Whoever Alan Pardwho and Steve Whatsisface simply didn’t comprehend. They either aren’t football people or on a more basic level, don’t care about the thing that makes football work- the people. Let’s hope this is part of a major sea change.
With shades of Kevin Keegan in 1992, Rafa took to the stage yesterday and instantly projected an aura, a confidence from a man who simply knows what he’s doing. He can talk to people, people believe him, people believe IN him and place trust in him. These are common threads throughout our recent history.
People who are liked around these parts are the ones who have these traits and you don’t have to be born and bred in Byker to know how to treat people. Sir Bobby knew it, Kevin knew it and today Rafa could walk down Northumberland Street and be wished well, something that even when things were going well, Steve McClaren and Alan Pardew couldn’t be afforded.
People may say Rafa can’t work in the Championship. Why not? He managed in the Segunda Division with Extremadura in 1997 and won promotion, Tenerife were promoted under his management in 2001, so I think his credentials at a lower level are more than adequate.
He says all the right things as well, hopefully given assurances from above that it IS ‘what is said in the brochure’.
“If I don’t want to sell any players I don’t need to sell any players. We can keep all the players who we want.”
This is critical, if true. We all know the promises made to Kevin Keegan in 2008 only for the rug to be pulled from under his feet, resulting in relegation less than a year later. Mike Ashley would be a fool to repeat the dose and I’m sure it was the main thing discussed over the last week or so.
“I needed a new challenge and a new project. I can see the possibilities and the size of the club. It’s massive….and I want to be part of that. I am convinced we can go up next season, we can stay for a long time in the Premier League and win trophies.”
Only time will tell if we can eventually do that last thing and go where we want to go and be where we want to be, but that’s for the future.
His appointment, on the eleventh anniversary of his crowning achievement in Istanbul has been greeted by fans and media in a much more positive way than the last few managers have been afforded at Newcastle and that’s a positive start. He has hit the ground running and we’ll all see what happens in the weeks and months to come.
As for Rafa in the present, let him work away and perform his magic. He’s done more in his press conference yesterday than his three predecessors did in five years.
Lies, half-truths and head-butts have been replaced with truth, trust and a headstrong belief from a man with a CV that would rank alongside the best in world football, but at the moment, he gives us hope. Just bringing that quality to St James Park is big in itself.
The hard work starts now, but the future looks bright.
Muchas Gracias Rafa! Buena Suerte. You’ll bloody well need it . .