Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United and the small matter of Respect and Discipline
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.
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