Rafa Benitez is somebody who still generates a lot of interest in Italy.
The Newcastle boss managed two of Serie A’s biggest clubs in Napoli and Inter Milan, so the Italian media are always keen to get his views on what happened during his time managing in Italy, as well as what is currently going on in Serie A.
The Newcastle United manager has sat down with La Repubblica for a long interview and as well as talking about football in Italy, Rafa Benitez has also spoken about his life now at Newcastle United, and has outlined his ambitions.
Fair to say that Rafa enjoyed his time at Napoli a lot more than at Inter.
When managing in Milan, the Spaniard took over an ageing team from Jose Mourinho and felt he wasn’t backed when it came to making the necessary changes.
When Rafa Benitez arrived, there were 12 players the wrong side of 30 at Inter Milan, but the club’s President ‘didn’t listen’ to him, leading to him exiting the club inside six months.
At Newcastle, Rafa’s stay could have been even shorter, but thankfully he decided to stay and look at the long-term possibilities when relegation happened.
Speaking to La Repubblica, Rafa now says the plan is to make sure Newcastle stay in the Premier League this season, then start looking to win things in the following seasons.
With much talk of a potential takeover, Newcastle fans are seeing the possibility of better times all around, with Rafa Benitez central to that.
Rafa Benitez talking to La Repubblica:
“I did win two trophies in just six months at Inter, then got as many with Napoli, and I don’t regret those times.
“It is fair to say that I didn’t enjoy Inter as much as Napoli.
“I almost never got any opportunity to look around the city of Milan as I lived outside the city and the squad wasn’t doing very well in Serie A.
“Inter had 12 players in their squad over the age of 30 and there was the need forchange, but (the then) President Massimo Moratti didn’t listen to me.
“The club made that revolution (turnover of older players) eventually but only after I had left.
“Now, with Chinese investors, they can fight it out with Juventus and Napoli for the Scudetto (Serie A title).
“I’m not so sure that the level of Serie A has improved overall but there’s certainly three or four teams that are much stronger, due partly to the influx of money from abroad.
“Money makes the difference, both to sign good players and above all, to avoid others leaving.
“The biggest gap between Serie A and Premier League is an economic one.
“As a consequence of that, England has better structures and training facilities but Italians are very good on the pitch.
“I am happy at Newcastle.
“The fans are supporting us and the club’s executives trust me.
“We do miss some quality but we are a very balanced team.
“Our objective is to survive this Premier League campaign then try to win something in the following seasons.
“That is what I see in my future.”