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Opinion

Rafa Benitez is an astute manager – but he’s not a magician

4 years ago
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Imagine, if you will, that Newcastle United football club were a stately home – a grand old English house built in the late 1800s. Carefully crafted with local materials and employing the finest local craftsmen to create a structure to be proud of. The pride of the North East exudes from every hand-crafted brick, timber, render screed, eave and tile. Truly a magnificent testament to local pride, one to stand the test of time.

Owned, over the decades, by many larger than life dynasties – some reputable and others of lesser repute – this historic building has weathered many a storm, survived the bombs of World War One and Two, and repelled many invaders over the last century. Europe, indeed, held this grand house in high esteem.

The marbled halls, ‘Sistineesque’ ceilings, lavish furnishings and neatly tended grounds have gone through many generations of caregivers. Some dedicated to touching up any imperfection – trimming, fixing and reupholstering every blemish, and proudly striving to maintain perfection – whilst others drank away the family fortune, squandered, defiled and left carnage for latter generations.

And then, in 2016, Lord Benitez of Madrid opened the heavy wrought iron door, casting his eye over what had become an embarrassing dilapidated wreck. And like the finest architects he saw beyond the sparking electrics and crumbling walls, beyond the decades of neglect, destructive squatters and marauding criminals who stripped the very lead from the roof.

Rafa Benitez saw the hope of the townsfolk! He saw the potential to rebuild this great house once again.

Lord Benitez was eagerly welcomed by the townsfolk. ‘The Messiah has returned’ they cried as he walked amongst them, gathering the finest building materials he could afford with such limited resources left in the vault. Rafa understood there was still value in repurposed materials and was experienced enough to understand that even a bent rusty nail can be cleaned and straightened – so long as its core strength still remains.

The town square and taverns soon became full of excitable chattering and before long the word on the cobbolds was that the refurbishment would be completed within the week, using the finest Peruvian nails with New York slate on the roof and Italian marble on the floors.

Mobbed at every turn Lord Rafa calmly reassured the local people there was to be no instant fix and that years of neglect would take several summers to repair. He called for trust and patience… “The best buildings start from the ground up with the sturdiest of foundations!” Rafa explained.

The townsfolk fought for patience and to heed Lord Rafa’s words of calm but they’d seen it all before. The false dawns were still too fresh in the memory. The townsfolk had faith but little hope as result of the many quick fixes that had preceded this brave new dawn.

So Lord Rafa stopped talking, left the townsfolk to their suppositions and got on with the task at hand. Because he knew he was the right man for the job and left to his own devices, with the support of the region, he would restore this house to greatness.

I am a fan who is considered to have my ear to the ground. I absorb fan opinion, spend considerable time reading the Newcastle United blogs and pride myself of being a good barometer of fan opinion. Rafa Benitez, if allowed to work the way he needs to, will rebuild our beloved club from the ground up over the next few seasons. He is a great architect but he is not a magician.

Years of mismanagement cannot be eradicated over the space of just one footballing year. Rafa will not quit – this season (or transfer window) at the least. And if Rafa deems Newcastle United to be worth his time, effort, blood, sweat and tears then so must we.

We cling to the hope that in Rafa Benitez we finally have a leader to fight for what’s right and lead us back to positivity and away from shambolic embarrassment.

We may not have the marquee signings we all hoped for but if Rafa’s not walking away from the immense challenge then neither am I.

So let’s hope that Jacob Murphy, Javier Manquillo, Christian Atsu, Florian Lejeune, Mikel Merino and anyone who may come through the door before August 31st will add to the sturdy foundations that Rafa’s meticulously building on. BUT, I certainly wouldn’t risk my Fantasy Premier League budget on any of them at this stage.

Only time will tell.

And while on the subject of Fantasy football… If, like me, you live and breathe anything football then please feel free to join my Fantasy Premier League ‘World XI’ league- Code: 114600-30208

Dom also has his own website which you can visit here – www.natureslarder.tv

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

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