Rafa Benitez is facing maybe his greatest ever challenge at Newcastle United.
An underfunded squad and uncertainty surrounding a potential takeover, not the best of helps in managing a return to the Premier League.
The Newcastle manager’s greatest career achievements centre around what he did at Valencia and Liverpool.
Breaking the stranglehold of Real Madrid and Barcelona with a remarkable two La Liga titles at Valencia (2001/02 and 2003/04), then later that Champions League triumph with the scousers.
Marcelino (not the Newcastle dodgy centre-back – the current Valencia boss) has no doubts about how great Rafa’s achievements were at Valencia, saying ‘It’s impossible to match what Rafa Benitez achieved here.’
Benitez started the 2001/02 title winning season with a run that saw no defeats in the opening 13 matches, on Sunday afternoon Marcelino’s Valencia could beat that.
With nine wins and four draws so far, they play away at Getafe. A win would put them only two points behind leaders Barcelona and a sizeable six points ahead of Real Madrid in fourth (Atletico Madrid currently third).
Valencia boss Marcelino speaking ahead of today’s match against Getafe:
“Our idea is not to match that Rafa Benitez record, it is just to win with our idea of football.
“Winning fills me with more satisfaction than equalling or beating a record.
“It’s impossible to match what Rafa Benitez achieved here.
“He is a point of reference for us.
“I’m happy with the goals of our three forwards, who were questioned at the start of the season.”
Valencia’s impressive run coincides with tough times for Rafa at Newcastle, only one point from the last 18 after defeat at Chelsea.
He has achieved a minor miracle to have 15 points from 15 matches so far, though it is essential that these are added to in the upcoming home games with Leicester and Everton.