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Rafa Benitez will stay at Newcastle beyond his 3 year contract

3 years ago
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I don’t think Rafa Benitez will leave before Christmas.

I don’t think he’ll leave before the end of the season.

I don’t even think he’ll leave at the end of his three year contract.

Why? Because he has an opportunity to do something incredible, something that could cement his status of one of the world’s truly great managers.

Think about Jose Mourinho, think about Conte, Guardiola, Garcia, Zidane, all young, relatively successful managers already, but they have a gift; money.

Could Conte have won the league last year without himself or his immediate predecessors spending metric ton upon ton of cash?

If Guardiola and Garcia hadn’t had the immense resources of Barcelona, and the well-established and incredibly fruitful youth system, could they have dominated Europe as they have done?

Could Pep have maintained his now-faltering image without serious funds at Bayern and Man City?

Mourinho is great, he did it at Porto, but since then he has bought success more than earned it.

For me, the true hero among managers recently has been Ranieri, the man who broke the mould.  That kind of success takes real skill, luck, yes, but the ability to manage men and make decisions wisely.  Ranieri will be remembered eternally, not just in Leicester, but around the world for what he did with them.

I’m not suggesting Rafa will win the league, but he has a golden opportunity to reignite world football’s biggest underachievers.  And he knows it.

He isn’t helped by Mike Ashley or Lee Charnley, and his frustration at that situation is clear to see, but I don’t think a man with Rafa’s integrity will consider that as a reason to quit.  He has a job to do, regardless of the circumstances.

He has a squad full of professional footballers, many of them active at international level, many of them selected by him and all of them (who stay) fully tuned in to what he has to say (at least, they should be, and if they aren’t, well, there’s the door).  We often say ‘we need better players, we need to spend money’.  Yes, of course there is a direct correlation between money spent and success, it’s undeniable, but there’s also the possibility that these players moving for vast sums are no better than what we already have, besides, it’s the team that wins, not a £45m attacking midfielder.

The point is, when you have a world class manager, you also have a world class trainer, and backroom staff behind him that carry out his wishes to the letter.  It should therefore be possible to train players to be better, to improve them, to educate them.  We have a young squad.  Take our friend Mitrovic for example, we place a lot of weight on that young man’s shoulders, he’s only 22!  But as we have all seen, he has potential.  So Rafa is in a position now to realise that potential and bring out the best in the players he has at his disposal (plus maybe one or two more).

That’s this year.  This year the purse strings are tight, we aren’t the lowest spenders, nevertheless,  as a newly promoted side we don’t have the resources other clubs have.  ‘But what about Brighton and Huddersfield?  They are spending big!’  The difference is, we already have a Premier League squad, one sufficient to remain in the league; they don’t.  They are panicking that without spending they’ll be left behind, they are speculating to accumulate.  If it fails, and they are relegated, then it could bite them very hard financially, they are taking a calculated risk.

It’s unclear whether we have any money or not, but what is certain is that we have a number of players on long contracts clogging up the wage bill who we need to offload, and the current transfer market is patently mental.  It’s unsustainable.

I think Rafa would dearly love to spend £150m on three players but perhaps it is sensible not to.  The player being sold for £45m this year is not better than he was last year when his price was £15m, his wages of £150,000/week are not of better value than his £60,000/week last year.

I don’t have Sky Sports or BT Sport, it’s too expensive, but if their prices rise by 300% I don’t think many else of you will have them either.  So (surely) this obscene amount of money must dry up sooner or later?

Either way, all these clubs excitedly spending their pocket money on 3/4/5-year deals for massively overpriced players will find that next year their budgets won’t stretch to adding more players to their list of over-paid pantomime actresses.  Perhaps Rafa (and those above him) know this?  Maybe if we can aim to stay up and finish as respectably as possible this year, we can go to town next year?  The TV money will still be there for us next year, other clubs will have shot their load, and we’ll be free to select the best of what’s left to improve the team further.

Maybe that’s a romantic way of looking at it but it’s a damn sight better than the alternative of wallowing in self-pity and negativity.

Anyway, my original point was about Rafa Benitez.  I think he’s aware of all of the above, I think his frustration, while it lies with Ashley, equally, or more so, lies in the current Premier League transfer market.  In a world where an unproven 19 year old demands a £1m house and £50,000 per week or he doesn’t want to play for Newcastle United, then just…no.  He deserves Swansea.  Rafa was absolutely right to tell him where to shove it.

It seems to me like Rafa is the ideal man to rebel against this madness and coach a team of unfancieds to glory, maybe not a league title just yet (but maybe, why not?), but to bring the name of Newcastle United back to the lips of every neutral supporter and second-team enthusiast, to continue to reignite the pride (our passion is undiminished) of the Geordie nation, to bring home a cup or two, and to instil himself in Geordie folklore forever.  He has a three year contract, I think it will be longer.

He will outstay Mike Ashley, he will build our club and achieve the success we crave and deserve.  We, the toon army, will help him do that by turning up week in week out and supporting the lads on the pitch come rain or shine either metaphorically or literally.  We won’t get on the player’s backs, we won’t boo, we won’t boycott or buoycoutt or buouycottou.

We will fill our lungs with crisp Novocastrian air and bellow out our support; there is nothing more intimidating for an opposition team than 50,000 noisy men, women and children blasting out the Blaydon Races.

We are Newcastle United.

Rafael Benitez is Newcastle United.

The players are Newcastle United.

Nothing else matters.

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

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