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Very interesting – Rafa Benitez public comments this summer compared to a year ago

5 years ago

It is now 54 days since a statement was released (on 10 May 2017) by Newcastle United, and even though it didn’t announce that ‘Rafa Benitez was staying’, that appeared to be the intended message.

Mike Ashley quoted saying ‘every last penny’ of money generated would be part of Rafa’s transfer budget, whilst the United boss was quoted in the same statement saying talks are positive about future plans etc etc.

A week after that news, Rafa Benitez was quoted by the Chronicle (see below) talking about this summer and the work to be done and so on.

I couldn’t remember reading much from Rafa after that and in fact I couldn’t remember anything at all…

So I went through all the articles on The Mag in the 47 days since those last Chronicle quotes and I could find nothing at all, so I looked elsewhere and still no updates or positive messages from the Newcastle Manager – strange.

In these 47 days, I did find Rafa Benitez quoted about the sad passing of Cheick Tiote.

There was also a well done message after Freddie Woodman and Adam Armstrong helped England win the Under 20s World Cup.

Then this weekend quotes from Rafa were included in a club statement on the appointment of Steve Nickson.

However, the only other thing I could find was that when the fixtures were announced, some Rafa quotes were included in the official club stuff just saying standard looking forward to it etc.

However, I can’t find anything about the transfer market and reassurance that everything  is in hand.

In contrast, a year ago (see below) I found numerous updates with Rafa talking about the transfer window and giving out messages to fans, happy to be interviewed by BBC Radio Newcastle and regular quotes sent out (by the club you imagine) to the Chronicle and other local papers, keeping things turning over and telling fans that things are ticking over.

I don’t see this summer’s near total silence as meaning sure fire disaster BUT it isn’t exactly good news is it.

I can’t believe that the club haven’t wanted to put out at least the odd update with Rafa Benitez telling fans that ‘progress is being made and so on, don’t worry we’ll sort it’. If nothing else, just to make sure that season ticket sales are kept flowing.

So to have nothing like that, you have to ask why?

I don’t want to go back to the days of pretty much daily updates from Alan Pardew (NUFC press office in his name???) but the absence of a happy medium is a concern.

Why the silence?

Hopefully we will hear from Rafa Benitez very soon as pre-season training starts today – 11 days until the first friendly at Hearts and 40 days until the Premier League kicks off.

17 May 2017

Rafa Benitez talking to the Chronicle:

“My feeling is that everybody has seen that the job has been done, and done properly – hopefully it is a good signal for the future.

“If everybody sees that things are going well, you can trust the people in charge and then you can be more supportive.

“We will have normal meetings, talking about ideas and things that will happen in the future.

“We will try to put things in place that he (Mike Ashley) will realise are a professional approach, we are talking about a project and we’re not thinking about something that’s not possible.

“We will only talk about things that we can achieve.

“It (transfer activity) depends on the market and prices – sometimes you want to do things and you can’t because they are too expensive.

“Sometimes you can but you have to put everything together – once we know where we are we will make decisions about every single player.

“I think we have already made steps forward and we have put the foundations down to build something bigger.”

5 June 2017

Rafa Benitez quotes within official club statement:

“It is with great sadness that I have this afternoon learned of Cheick’s death. 

“In all the time that I have known him, he was a true professional, dedicated and above all, a great man.

“Our hearts go out to his family and friends at such a sad time.”

11 June 2017

Rafa Benitez via his own personal website:

“England has just won the U-20 World Cup Tournament in South Korea.

“Congratulations to everyone for a great achievement, but especially to two of our players, Freddie Woodman and Adam Armstrong, both part of the England team.

“It has been a fantastic experience for their development.

“Let’s enjoy it for a while and be sure you will be ready for the next season.

“C’mon, Toons!!!”

14 June 2017

Rafa Benitez speaking to the official club site:

“It’s always exciting to see the new fixtures and like the fans, it’s something we all look forward to.

“It’s a great start at home to Tottenham and a really exciting first game at St. James’ Park for our fans to enjoy.”

1 July 2017 

Official club statement on promotion of Steve Nickson:

“I’d like to congratulate Steve and welcome him to his new role with the club.

“Steve has done an excellent job in the scouting department at Under-21 level and I am very confident that he will bring his many strengths to this new role, improving and building on our first team recruitment strategy, as well as that at all levels throughout the club.”


31 May 2016

Rafa Benitez speaking to the Chronicle:

“I will stay around, we don’t have too much time.

“When you have been far away from your family like me for two and a half years you stay at home – being with family is like a holiday for me.”

 “I am really pleased to be at Newcastle because my family are happy that I am going to be close to them.

“Of course, you can’t stop working and we have already been working and hopefully we can see something in the next few weeks.

 “We will start on July 1. We’re going to Ireland and we will try to approach the pre-season with the idea of football, that’s what matters.

“We will work as much as we can. We will have between five and seven friendlies – we will have to decide that.

“The idea is to have time with the team and to prepare the team properly. We know we will have plenty of games during the season.”

1 June 2016

Commented on departure of Fabio Pecchia to Hellas Verona.

2 June 2016

Rafa Benitez speaking to the Chronicle:

“I have been asked about players wanting to leave but I have had more players telling me that they want to stay – that is positive.

“So we will deal with them and the main thing is we need players with passion, commitment and quality to make a difference in the Championship.”

9 June 2016

Rafa Benitez talking to the Chronicle:

Community relations

“Yes, we will have an open training session for supporters for sure.

“We want to bring fans closer to the club and to the players, we are all a team together.

“And the club is also a really big part of the city and the community.

“I have been talking to the staff and talking about the club’s Foundation, and also about the local charities in the North East.

“The club already does excellent work in the community, and we can add to that and hopefully do more.

“I have really good relationships and friendships with the people of Liverpool and Merseyside. I want to develop the same in Newcastle.”

Season ticket sales

“It does not surprise me so much because these are fans who love the club. It is hard when you love something to stay away.

“But it is fantastic to hear that areas in the stadium have already sold out and that there have been queues for tickets at the stadium.

“I have to thank them for showing their faith in me as the manager and already I look forward to seeing them in St James’ Park in August.”

10 June 206

Rafa Benitez talking to the Chronicle:


“Another important change we are making is to bring in an administrator to work with the players and their families.

“This will be someone who speaks English, French, Spanish, to help players settle at the club and in the city and be sure that they are able to focus 100% on the football.”


“I can assure fans that the business we are doing at the moment and that we will be doing over the next few weeks is all aimed at making the squad stronger than it is at the moment.

“We are very busy and things are very positive, the Euros makes things a bit difficult for every club, but as soon we can announce things about the squad we will tell our supporters.”

Moussa Sissoko says he wants to leave, can Newcastle keep their best players?

“It is simple in football: good players want to play with good players, in strong teams. So it is important that our priority is to have a strong team.

“We said a few days ago that we have had enquiries for some of our players, but our position is very clear on this. We absolutely will keep and build a strong squad that we believe can get us promotion back to the Premier League.

“If a player leaves, or he stays, or a new player arrives, whatever business we do in the transfer window will always be in the best interests of the club and the squad, that is certain.”

10 June 2016

Rafa Benitez interviewed by Mick Lowes on Radio Newcastle:

‘Moussa Sissoko has said in an interview this week that he might need to move on, do you think that will be the case – do you know that?’

“My idea is to keep the squad as strong as possible.

“I think we have to analyse every single case.

“Moussa Sissoko, he knows, because I was talking with his agent and he knows that he is an important player for us.

“So I will try to keep him with us for sure.

“These comments in the press, it is important to realise that they will not change things.

“So we said what we said before, we want to keep the squad as strong as possible and do our best for the team.”

11 June 2016

Rafa Benitez 10 June 2016:

“I think I don’t need to talk about specific positions. Our fans are very knowledgeable; they will know which positions we need to strengthen, just like we know.

“We are working to strengthen positions in which we are weak, of course. We have our priorities, we have our targets and we are making very good progress behind the doors.

18 June 2016

Rafa Benitez:

“It is an opportunity to change things and we will try to make the right decisions and  go in the right direction – I think everybody realised something had to change.

“We are working very hard. Since the first day I signed the new contract we have started improving and analysing the training ground to see what we can do, and I have a meeting in the academy, and with the medical department and for the squad with the scouting department

 “We have already been working in different areas and I think we are changing little things in each department and trying to bring the best for the players.

“We need to improve the team experience because that is also crucial for the Championship.

“It is not easy to bring in players (at Academy level), what we can do is try to improve the way that we coach, the way that we give them the instruction and understanding of the game.

“We have already had this meeting and obviously it will depend on the players and it will depend on the coaches but we will try to share our ideas and hopefully it will be good for the young lads.”

22 June 2016

Rafa Benitez statement of intent on the official club website:

“I am not the kind of manager who is really worried about the fixtures and our rivals.

“My idea is that you have to play against everyone, and when you will play against them doesn’t change too much in theory.

“What we do have to do is to prepare our team in the best way possible, to make sure we are strong enough to start the season in a good way, and to carry on until the end.”

23 June 2016

Rafa Benitez talking to Mick Lowes of Radio Newcastle:

‘So how close are you to getting the squad the way you want it, or is it still too early?’

“To be fair, for me as a manager it is too late but the reality of it is too early. Why?

“Because  would like to have the squad ready and say this is the team and start working with them from the first of July.

“But it is impossible in modern football now with agents, the Euros, a lot of people go there and don’t work – I’m really surprised – you try to work during the summer when the transfer window is open and sometimes Directors are away so you cannot find them, then you cannot do deals.

“We have three or four things ready, it is just that we have to start with the first one and we have two or three (transfers) that I think we can do in one week. But we can say nothing because the person that is responsible in this team is away.

“I want to say to our fans, we are working very hard. It is not easy the market because the prices are so high but we are fine. We can do our business and we have three or four things ready…and when I say ready, I mean really really nearly there, but we are waiting for someone that is working in another club and then he needs to come back and sign the documents.”

23 June 2016

Rafa Benitez talking to Mick Lowes of Radio Newcastle:

“We have to trust ourselves, the main thing is to be sure that we are strong enough. Try to do well from the first game – everybody will be expecting ‘Oh Newcastle has to win‘ but we will see what happens.

“We have to be ready, that is the main thing, We do not fear or worry about anyone, it is just about ourselves, approach every game and try to win.”

“I was talking with some players this summer about the future. The teams they will be deep, waiting with, we will see each game that we have to have a game plan in case they play deep. We saw Spain with problems against Croatia – they were behind the ball and with one counter-attack they won the game.

Rafa has also stated that he has three or four signings lined up, which are only being held up by people at other clubs attending the Euros and holding up deals, the manager believing that once people are in place he could make up to three signings in one week.

26 June 2016

Rafa Benitez quoted in the Chronicle:

“We have some good competition.

“People ask about Mitrovic or Cisse, Gini or Ayoze and Anita & Janmaat – that for me is quite positive.

“It means we have players competing for positions, the only thing I see from that is positive.

“It will be good for us and much better for the team.”

27 June 2016

Newcastle United official statement:

‘Newcastle United are delighted to confirm the launch of a new children’s football tournament to further foster and enhance ties between the football club and the local community.

The competition, entitled the Newcastle United Foundation 1892 Cup, will take place annually and involve primary school children from across the city. The inaugural tournament will take place at the Newcastle United Academy on Monday, 4th July 2016.

Eight local primary schools will each field two eight-a-side football teams comprising Year 3 and Year 4 children, aged seven to nine. Each school will be represented by both a boys’ and girls’ team meaning a total of 128 local children will be taking part in the tournament, which kicks off at Little Benton at 2.15pm.

Playing kit, including boots, is being provided for all children by Sports Direct whilst Newcastle United is offering transport to and from the venue for the eight participating schools.

United manager Rafa Benitez, along with a number of first-team players, will join the children at the end of the tournament to award prizes and mementoes before the day is rounded off with a celebration barbecue hosted by the manager alongside Club and Foundation staff.

Rafa Benitez said: “We are really proud of this new tournament. It is important to organise activity like this to bring the Club and the community of Newcastle closer together. As we come back for pre-season training, this tournament is the perfect way to do that.

“Our Foundation already is doing lots of fantastic work in the city and the region. They have been very happy to add this tournament to their schedule of events in the community and I thank them for this and for all their hard work. I am sure this event will be really successful and great fun too!”

Foundation Manager Kate Bradley added: “We are delighted to hold the inaugural Newcastle United Foundation 1892 Cup, this year bringing together primary schools from the East and West of Newcastle. This event tops off a busy programme of activities in 2015/16 which has seen the Foundation work in over 200 local primary, secondary and special educational needs schools.”

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