On 26 August 2017, Rafa Benitez almost ‘achieved’ something that he had never previously managed in the Premier League.
In seven seasons, six at Liverpool and one at Chelsea, plus his time at Newcastle, Rafa had never lost three Premier League games in a row.
Reading this stat elsewhere, I had to check it out and sure enough it is true, the current Newcastle manager has never lost three PL games in succession.
To put this into context, in two months short of four seasons, it happened nine times to Newcastle before the Spaniard took over.
As well as those nine times, there was the six defeats in a row under Alan Pardew in 2013/14.
Then not to be outdone, John Carver amazingly managed eight losses in a row in 2014/15, a new all-time record.
Liverpool (and Chelsea) may have generally had better teams than Newcastle when Rafa Benitez was in charge but it isn’t though they were the dominant team(s) with the very best players.
You can’t claim superhuman talents for Rafa that would have turned those Newcastle teams before he arrived into world beaters BUT it would be hard to argue that he wouldn’t have achieved significantly better results than Pardew, Carver and McClaren with the same players.
That is what we have at St James Park, for the time being, a manager who organises and inspires his team to be better than the individual parts.
The win against West Ham of course ensured that the three Premier League defeats in a row didn’t happen quite yet and indeed the Swansea victory that followed, meant that Newcastle were on the brink of WINNING three PL matches in a row for the first time in three years (Pardew fluked it in 2014/15 in what turned out to be a five match winning run).
On Saturday against Stoke the players got over that three Premier League matches in a row winning line.
Bottom line is that Rafa Benitez is suggesting that with scarce resources (£11.5m net spend this summer) he could well achieve results this season, with these players, that would equal Newcastle punching well above their weight.
The experts/pundits were lining up to tip Newcastle as automatic relegation candidates but the last trio of performances have made people think that comfortable safety could be a possibility, which would be a major plus on Rafa’s CV considering how Mike Ashley has undermined him.
However, there will be a glass ceiling which is pretty much impossible to break through without the manager being properly backed in the transfer market.
No expectations of Manchester City/PSG style funding but with a realistic budget just what could Rafa Benitez conjure up at St James Park?