Get your daily update and weekly newsletter by signing up today!


The middle man helping Newcastle players to understand what Rafa Benitez wants

4 years ago

Rafa Benitez was keen to credit all of his backroom staff with playing a part in his Manager of the Month award for October.

One of those was Ian Cathro, the only senior member of the coaching staff to keep his job after Steve McClaren was given the bullet.

Cathro was a surprise choice as United number two, with Steve McClaren struggling to get anybody to agree to come and work under him, as the like of Phil Neville and Bolo Zenden turned him down.

Obviously enjoying life under Rafa Benitez, the former Valencia assistant manager says that one of his main roles has been to get the players to be ‘entirely clear and comfortable’ with what the United boss wants them to do.

Ian Cathro describes Rafa Benitez as ‘unique’, due to his ability to instantly evaluate a game as he is watching it, which then enables him to manage the game as it progresses and make relevant changes.

It became a running joke with Alan Pardew as to how his ‘game management’ worked, even to when and where his subs would come on.

Cathro believes that Newcastle fans are lucky because Rafa is ‘at that point of expertise and experience’ in his career, where it is a case of ‘bang’ and he understands why a certain player has done something, or why the defence is playing a certain way.

Ian Cathro taking to the Chronicle about Rafa Benitez:

“I am helping the players reach a point where they feel entirely clear and comfortable with what the manager is asking.

“The manager’s attention to detail is excellent and the best way to describe him, is that his ability to see a game of football and immediately understand all of aspects of it, is unique.”

“That is why he’s so good.

“He has his own vision and convictions, a clear direction about where he wants to go, but he can also process what is going on instantly.

“This means he can change things as they are happening.

“It is difficult to know exactly why someone is doing something when you are not involved in it but he can immediately have a pretty strong idea of why one player has done something, why the back-line is playing as it is, and so on.

“He is at that point of expertise and experience, where his brain process is that ‘bang’, he understands it.


If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]

Have your say

© 2021 The Mag. All Rights Reserved. Design & Build by Mediaworks