Rafa Benitez made a massive impression when he was at Liverpool – winning the Champions League with a relatively poor/average side didn’t do any harm.
However, he also made a major connection with the Liverpool fans, something which continues to this day.
Rafa has kept his family home in the North West and shares his time now between Tyneside and Merseyside.
At Newcastle, the supporters immediately also felt that connection with the new manager, at last somebody they could trust and respect, after the nightmare of over five years with Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve McClaren.
Of course personal characteristics only go so far and results on the pitch have to be there as well.
On Sunday, Newcastle’s excellent 1-0 win over Man Utd prompted many Liverpool fans to add their own positive comments (read them HERE) on the job Rafa Benitez is doing against the odds at Newcastle, many of them taking an ongoing interest in their former manager’s career.
There has been another reminder this week as to just how good a job Rafa Benitez did from the start at Liverpool, when he arrived in 2004.
At the weekend, Liverpool beat Southampton 2-0 away from home and did Newcastle a massive favour in doing it.
That game brought Jurgen Klopp’s 50th win in his first 95 league games.
This prompted a Liverpool fan to ask Martin Tyler in his excellent Sky Sports stats column, whether Klopp had made a better start than any other Liverpool manager in the Premier League era.
His 50 victories brought Klopp close but one man still reigns supreme for the Scousers in the Premier League era, Martin Tyler stating:
“In the Premier League era, Rafa Benitez remains Liverpool’s most successful manager after 95 league games, as he won 52 of his matches.”
Tyler revealing that Rafa is top ahead of both Klopp and Brendan Rodgers, both of who are on the 50 win mark in the opening 95 league games.
In fact only six Liverpool managers have won 50 or more of their first 95 league matches and only two in their entire history have done better than Rafa Benitez. Plus Bill Shankly was managing a second tier Liverpool when he first arrived.
Liverpool managers with most league wins in opening 95 league games:
59 Bill Shankly
54 Kenny Dalglish
52 Rafa Benitez
51 Bob Paisley
50 Jurgen Klopp
50 Brendan Rodgers
As for Rafa’ record at Newcastle United so far:
2015/16 Played 10 Won 3 Drawn 4 Lost 3
2016/17 Played 46 Won 29 Drawn 7 Lost 10
2017/18 Played 27 Won 7 Drawn 7 Lost 13
This gives Rafa Benitez a Newcastle league record so far of:
Played 83 Won 39 Drawn 18 Lost 26
Especially with the lack of backing from Mike Ashley it is a superb record, after inheriting the mess left by the owner and former managers/head coaches.
However, even if Newcastle won their next 12 league games, it would still only take Rafa Benitez up to 51 wins in his opening 95 league matches.
Getting anywhere close to that figure though would make Newcastle fans very happy, as NUFC face up to these final 11 Premier League survival games.