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Rafalution marches on – Newcastle team today compared to what faced Palace 18 months ago

3 years ago
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How big has the Rafalution been at St James Park.

It is 19 months ago since Rafa Benitez first walked through the door at St James Park.

Difficult to imagine now just how desperate Newcastle supporters had become, after all those years under the three stooges – Alan Pardew, John Carver, and Steve McClaren.

Three people clearly not up to the job and on top of that, so happy/desperate to be employed that they accepted they would have no say in any important decisions at Newcastle, especially transfers in and out.

Benitez was brought in far too late to have a decent chance of avoiding relegation but even demotion to the Championship was a small price to pay, if supporters at last had a manager to trust and believe in.

From that point of the manager agreeing to stay on after relegation, the Rafalution has gathered in pace, despite the ridiculous way Mike Ashley has undermined the efforts of Rafa Benitez.

On the pitch the transformation has been amazing, both in terms of the attitude and pulling together, plus also the actual personnel.

Only 18 months ago Newcastle United faced Crystal Palace, the 30 April 2016 saw NUFC win 1-0 (tremendous Townsend free-kick) and this was the team:

Karl Darlow – Now reserve keeper

Vurnon Anita – Allowed to leave on a free in summer 2016

Paul Dummett – Out injured

Cheick Tiote – Was sold in February 2017

Chancel Mbemba – Currently left out of matchday 18

Jamaal Lascelles – Captain

Jack Colback – Refused to leave in the summer and now left totally out of the squad

Gini Wijnaldum – Sold in summer 2016

Moussa Sissoko – Sold in summer 2016

Papiss Cisse – Sold in summer 2016

Andros Townsend – Sold in summer 2016

As you can see, an astonishing turnover of players and even Jamaal Lascelles found himself left out of the team at the start of the season, only getting his chance when Florian Lejeune picked up an injury.

The media and those who are against Newcastle United might want to try and devalue what Rafa Benitez has done here but it is a massive achievement to handle such a turnover of players, yet win the Championship and give NUFC the kind of start they have had so far this season in the Premier League.

Long live the Rafalution!
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