If we are to believe some of what we read in the press and on some forums, there is a growing swell of Newcastle fans who not only question the decisions of Rafa Benitez, but also believe that it is time for a change.

We read comments from multiple armchair managers, FIFA experts and statistic quoting loudmouths, who will all give you all the mathematical and statistical reasons why Rafa is underperforming, has been well supported, and should be moved along swiftly.

However, football isn’t about figures on a balance sheet and the only statistic which really matters is winning football matches, something which Rafa has shown himself to be much better at than those who preceded him (since Sir Bobby) throughout his career.

We can talk about financial support, and frame the figures to suit any argument we care to make, we can talk about losing runs and ignore those financial arguments, or we can be honest with ourselves about where the club finds itself and why. As well as the unprecedented level of real support for the manager when you actually step away from the keyboard and get out in the real world.

Previous to this season I had attended precisely one live Newcastle match in the previous nine seasons, an away game at Nottingham Forest in our first Championship season.

I refuse to financially support a regime which is so blatantly killing the identity of the football club. This season has been different though, the away trip at Stoke was my fifth game of the season and already have tickets for the home match with Swansea. What, or rather who, has brought about my change in attitude is the manager and how he has put his back into taking as much of the football club as he can, back into the community and back to the fans.

These days I find myself more able to talk about football rather than balance sheets, about performances and results rather than protests and the latest embarrassment brought about by Bernard Manning in the boardroom, and I solely credit Rafa Benitez with changing mine, and others’, perception of being a Newcastle United fan.

Rafa has done this by not sucking up to the owner (a la Pardew, Carver and Schteve), but by providing honest and objective reasoning of what is required to improve the team and by basically not simply being a mouthpiece for the board.

When you find yourself amongst your fellow fans you will be hard pressed to find many with a bad word to say about the manager, unlike when you log onto the internet.

Recently, at both the Brighton game and the Stoke game, I was amongst scores of fans chanting the manager’s name with passion and intensity, louder than any other chant perhaps other than the “when Ashley sells the club” crowd favourite. So for those of us who are left scratching our heads when we log on and read those who want the manager out (and replaced with who?), do not worry, you are the sane ones.

The vocal minority are exactly that, a minority, and they come with no real answers other than they want him gone, but out in the real world people understand that Rafa Benitez is doing his best with what he has, he is not perfect but he is better than we have had in many many years.

As I left the ground in the rain at Stoke on New Year’s day, basking in the glory of our deserved victory, I listened to fans talking excitedly about what could be with owners who had ambition and with Rafa at the helm.

My joy was not even dampened when one of our own fans said to me ‘Charlie Adam played well for your lot today’.

Sorry, I might be missing the accent but I’m not missing the hope that with Rafa Benitez things can get better.

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  • Rich Lawson

    Still the best manager we could have by a country mile,who in God’s name would you replace him with ? Whoever it might be would still presumably be shackled by a lack of funds so how are they going to improve the current squad over what Rafa is doing now ? Back the manager !

    • Leazes

      I sincerely hope Rafa isn’t just going through the motions for the sale of the club.

      • Rich Lawson

        I believe he is a man of integrity and is simply hoping for a new owner who will let him do his job to his full capability as I believe MOST of us on here do.

        • Kneebotherm8

          Just the idiotic few can’t see it.

  • Leazes

    We’ll have the biggest crowd to see a reserve game at this club in Ashley’s time on Saturday… surely an indication that everyone believes the oaf is finally going…..

    …. surely he’s going….. and taking with him the Strawberry Place development site…. part of little Benton and …… leaving the place trashed….job done…. next to be seen at his beloved Stamford Bridge picked up by the BBC cameras wearing a blues scarf and no tie…..

    ….What would have happened if he bought out Chelsea ten years ago?

    • hetonmag

      Neglected the team and bought all the land surrounding Stamford Bridge.

      • Leazes

        No chance

  • ghostrider

    I think Rafa himself has wrote this article.
    The man will get it in the neck when he deserves to and he’s deserved it for a large part of this season for his serious negative tactics and baffling ways.
    He’ll get credit where it’s due, as well.

    Saying you now go to Newcastle matches because of Rafa makes is a clear nonsense to me. It stinks of a fan hanging onto an idol for no other reason than having a so called big footballing name at Newcastle United….because I can tell you one thing for sure. If Rafa had been Allardyce doing exactly the same thing as it stands, you’d be writing an article about Allardyce destroying the club alongside Ashley….etc….etc…..etc.

    Utter sickening.

    • Kneebotherm8

      Yeah, you’re one of the minority dckheads he’s on about.
      We’ve already had one dose of Allardyce and that WAS the biggest heap of sht football I’ve ever had the displeasure to witness.

      • ghostrider

        Do you feel better calling people names?

    • Tony English

      Behold Ghostrider….King of the Baffled.

      Judge Rafa when he’s given the same funds (taking the inflation in the market into account) as Allardyce had here, see how he sets the team up then.

      I think it’s fair enough that someone can be born into a Newcastle supporting family but be embarrassed by the club’s performance, or signings, or hierarchy….so remain armchair spectators, especially the younger generation with the sheer volume of televised games these days.

      If this lad finds hope in us having a manager with pedigree for the first time in his memory, and is old enough to start going to games and having disposable income, it’s not really fair to criticise him for ‘hanging on to an idol’.

      We’ve all had our interest and annoyance go up and down over the years.

      • ghostrider

        I’ll judge Rafa now. I’ll judge him now because he took on the job on a salary of 5 million a year because Rafa is apparently a special type of manager that can do the business.
        The man built the team and almost the squad he uses and he knew where he was going.
        He had cash and player money but chose to spend it unwisely.
        His so called genius is now in waiting.

        Let’s see where he goes from here. Hopefully he starts to use it and give us something to shout about.

        • Tony English

          You can’t build a brick house on a straw bail budget, you can judge him by whatever measures you choose, no doubt you’ll continue to be blinkered to the improvements he has implemented, the defensive solidity, the teamwork, the improvements to the likes of Lascelles, spotting the talent of Merino.

          Continue to accentuate the negative mate.

    • Coach Clagnut

      Ignorance on display and you don’t care who reads it do you cheesychip?
      Equating Rafa’s pedigree with Sam The Backhander’s is infantile and crass.

      Had Allardyce arrived at the club with a c.v. of league titles, European trophies, International trophies and domestic cups I reckon he’d have been given all the time and patience in the world to make a success of managing the N.U.F.C.

      The fact that you and your mates in Desolation Row are the only fans to mourn his passing, suggests you are but a snide with the brain of an idiot and I hear your mother wants it back.

      • ghostrider

        Another one that likes to name call. lol.
        most fans didn’t give a rats aris when Allardyce was bundled out of the club in return of Keegan.
        Some, like me were like ” that’s well below the belt that, Allardyce hasn’t had any time to put things into place and he’s tossed out like trash.”

        Then I thought, ” I hope this is the new start of something exciting.”
        Then I realised that the old dummy spitter was at it again and walking out, regardless of the arguments.

        Guess what?
        Nobody gave a rats for Allardyce but Keegan walks and there’s absolute uproar.

        Let’s put it in a different light.
        If Allardyce was sacked like he was but, instead of Keegan walking through the doors, someone like, Tony Pulis or Alan Curbishley, etc came in and were dealt the same hand as Keegan and walked just like Keegan….there would be mild discontent and then the old chatter of ” hmmm, wonder who we’ll get this time…mind you Pulis/Curbishley/bloggs won’t have done much.”

        And that would have been it.

        It’s amazing what can tip a frenzy and what can damp down one.
        The same with Rafa.
        If Ashley sacked him for not doing better there would be banners and hangman nooses displayed, plus boycott issues, etc etc etc.

        If New owners come in and immediately sack Rafa in ready for change….there will be a mild discontent from the ardent Rafa lovers who will then cite that it’s new owners and they want to take this club as their fresh start.

        It’s amazing what people will accept when the carrot is dangled.

    • TheFatController

      So you’re basically saying that because you can give credit and criticism fairly, then resultantly your criticism is fair and thus your view is superior to others who back Rafa?

      What a jumped-up self-righteous, arrogant attitude.

      I suspect it’s never occurred to you, on any subject at any point in your life, that just once, maybe twice, you could be wrong?

      • ghostrider

        What I say is my opinion. Whether it’s correct or not is not the issue. It’s an opinion.
        Just because you follow a set pattern with the masses does not make your opinion any more valid. It makes it nothing other than a appearance of being correct by mere show of hands.

        Most people would rather follow the masses because it’s simply easier.
        Why argue against the masses when it’s easier to simply follow them.

        Mickey mouse could be a great king if the masses approve by built up peer pressure to get to that stage.

        Hartlepool got a club mascot h’angus the monkey as a Mayor by mass bandwagon following of towns people. It doesn’t make it correct.

    • Megatron1505

      I would come up with a long a detailed, perhaps even witty, response. However, you’re simply a moron.

      • ghostrider

        I did smile at the moron bit. It’s a shame you didn’t go ahead with the rest of the post, I might have bell laughed.

  • Northumberland mag

    Excellent article. Rafa has and is doing a brilliant job under the circumstances, hopefully soon to be for a new owner.

  • thewildchimp

    Here we go again…

    An endless loop.

    You honestly want to know why the rest treat NUFC fans as rubbish? Because we often switch to rubbish mode.

    1. Rafa isn’t God. I’d like him to stay but he needs to improve as well. He is a Champions’ League manager with a somewhat decent Premier League squad. He likes to organise a strong defence that catches opponents on the breaks and transitions into a fast, direct counterattacking offensive. If he hasn’t realised by now that he has a squad of players who are mostly good with medium-paced, mixed-passing football and he has to employ mixed tactics – then I don’t know what to say. Sure, I’m not an award-winning manager but I have eyes. If our players were cut out to play like Real Madrid – they’d play for Real Madrid.

    2. Our players aren’t pure sh*te, as some make them out to be. They are alright, some even good. Remember those “Mitro’s on Fire” wild dances in the pubs a few years ago? Remember how excited everyone were, debating whether Gayle will become the Championship’s best striker? Apparently, those two are worth jack now… You speak about players being mercenaries, how ’bout you show some loyalty to them? I’ve been hard on Perez myself, and I still think he can’t do anything against better defences, but that lad runs for two on the defense for full 90 mins., since Joselu and Gayle apparently can’t be bothered, so at least give him some respect. And our players actually care and actually try very hard, but if you can’t stand them and want the full squad replaced – the solution is simple – don’t watch the games. You know what you are paying for, so why are you complaining?

    3. Yes, Ashley is a terrible owner. But in case all of those banners actually make him cry – he has your money to wipe the tears with. So do something useful or bear with him. The only other thing you are going to get out of it is gastric ulcer.

    Honestly, life isn’t going to end if we get relegated. We’ll still support the club and hope for the best. And as much as I like to exchange opinions, there is a line somewhere where it stops being constructive. Don’t be as negative as Rafa’s football in this new year.
    Smile, lads.