Like all football fans, Newcastle supporters want to see better quality players arrive.

Petty much every successful club sees their team/squad as an ever evolving one, constantly trying to bring in better players at one end, whilst hopefully able to move on those who no longer make the grade.

Recent events though, are a timely reminder that talent isn’t always the key factor.

Obviously to be able to compete in any significant way you do need to have enough players of a certain ability but at least as important, is having the tools to mould those players into a cohesive unit, rather than simply 11 individuals.

The manager is usually the key to that, as he sets the agenda and wat is expected of the players, as well  as managing/coaching them on a day to day basis.

It was recently revealed that when Steve McClaren was at Newcastle, there ended up being such a lack of respect that the players refused to get off the team coach, when McClaren wanted them to go for a walk.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if you can’t even get your players to follow that simple order/request, they are hardly going to be following the manager’s orders on the pitch.

Once there is clear widespread evidence of discipline breaking down and respect missing, the manager of any club has lost it.

Alan Pardew has won just one Premier League match in three months at West Brom.

Rewarding his squad with a warm weather break despite being rock bottom of the table is questionable. However, when then four of his most senior players break a curfew and are questioned by police after allegedly stealing a taxi, what does that tell you about the relationship between manager and players.

Rafa Benitez is renowned for being meticulous, in his training and preparation for matches he wants players to follow his instructions to the letter.

It isn’t like he has ignored the claims of a Messi or Ronaldo but it is clear the Newcastle boss has taken no prisoners since joining the club.

Jack Colback now says he didn’t get the respect he deserved as Rafa sent him to train with the kids, Tim Krul said similar after ending up at Brighton following being totally pushed to the sidelines.

Rafa Benitez isn’t interested in going public with reasons for his decision-making on individual players, or explaining what they have done to deserve the cold shoulder. He just does it and then gets on with the job of training the players he wants to work with and use.

Nobody pretends that it is easy for any manager these days when a highly paid player decides to test their patience but one thing is for sure. A bit like a schoolteacher, if you let somebody get away with undermining your position, then it quickly spreads.

None of us want to see another idiot at Newcastle in the mould of Sam Allardyce or Graeme Souness, who talk a good game about discipline but in reality their flawed styles and personalities are simply expressing their inflated ego, rather than showing strong management and earning respect.

Rafa Benitez has the ability and the track record that demands respect and if anybody doesn’t like it, he takes action, without resorting to public naming and shaming or using the media to score points.

He just gets on with the job in hand and tries to minimise any potential distractions. If Newcastle do stay up then it will be Rafa Benitez who has played the key role, not any individual player.



  • Wor Lass

    I`m with you in general, Jim, but I don`t understand why you would bracket Fat Sam with the likes of McLaren and Souness. OK, we didn`t like his style of play but I don`t think there`s been a club where he`s managed and not been respected by the players. I wouldn`t want him back here but I don`t think we would have been relegated if he`d stayed. He worked wonders with the squad he had at Sunderland and I think they were gutted that he left. Also, although I do agree that the manager should always be more important than any single player, Lascelles will be top of my list of people to thank after Rafa if we stay up.

    • Wor Monga

      …A masterstroke by Rafa that…Under Pardew I doubt very much that Lascelles (like Dummett) would have even come through and been given enough chance to prove himself…the lad captaining the side would never have happened because Pardew doesn’t know enough about the strength of character and ability of players…he could only buy somebody in that he assumed would have enough experience to do it…that’s why Collo who’d had a few games for Argentina had the armband, and we all knew that no matter how decent the lad was as a player he was never a strong enough personality to hold together (and speak for) the Toon!!!

      • richardbraverman

        I think the article hits upon another point. We all need to see progress. Even small steps. When work stops being fun and productive, even the most disciplined individual can crack under the pressure. Mike Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle has been an unmitigated disaster. Miserly, inept, incompetent indifferent and led by an army of sock puppets happy to have a job. By the time Rafa showed up Collocini and many other players were a shell of their former selves. I am glad we have Rafa and I am certain many of our former players would have blossomed under his hand.

  • Wor Monga

    …No matter who the coach or manager is any player who shows disrespect like is mentioned here shouldn’t be representing this or any other club…in any competitive league…They are paid to represent the coach (and supporters) on the field, and not to decide for themselves what they will or not do in training…

    …It didn’t only happen here under MaClaren or Carver it happened right here under sir Bobby Robson who was one of the best football coaches that Britain has ever produced, and who was ignominiously sacked by Shepherd as a result of the bad behaviour…

    …probably the best known example of disrespect was that shown by the Leeds United players who totally dissed and downed tools on Cloughie when he took over there…yes he had some very strange ways… didn’t like some of their big names and would have changed things dramatically but look what he went on to achieve and look where they ended up!!!

  • thewildchimp

    ,,If Newcastle do stay up then it will be Rafa Benitez who has played the key role, not any individual player.”

    Rafa Benitez isn’t the one kicking the ball every weekend, so, by the laws of physics, there has to be a group (or groups) of key players responsible for the ups and downs. Attributing everything good to the manager and everything bad to the players is disrespectful to the lads.

    As for Colback and Kruul (and several others): NUFC isn’t a school. It’s a football club, and these are grown men, most of them in their twenties who have wives and kids. We don’t know the full story and defending Benitez because he is Benitez is simply biased. Maybe he was right and maybe he was wrong – each case is individual. Yes, he has to make some tough choices, but then again – he doesn’t really. He is in a position to f up these lads royally, if he pleases, and get away with it – like any other manager in the world. He can’t have the players he wants and that’s as far as his external troubles go. The lads are good enough to stay up and whoever says they don’t have overall quality for the Prem League – simply knows very little about the game called football. Or got stuck somewhere in the past.