Rafa Benitez is flying high when it comes to his position amongst Newcastle United’s managers in the Premier League era.

The ELO system is used to try and rank all kinds of sports, both teams and individuals.

Back in March 2016, Chris Holt introduced readers of The Mag to the ELO way to rank managers/coaches in football.

Named after Arpad Elo, the system was first used in Chess to assess rankings based on results, and now it is widely accepted as means of measuring success in other sporting arenas.

A fuller explanation is below, but simplistically, how ELO works is that each competitor is assigned a rating based on their previous games. Points are added and removed from the Elo rating of a player depending on the outcome of games.  If a player with a low rating beats a player with a high rating, they gain a high number of points but if a player with a high rating beats a player with a low rating they get a lower number of points, because that’s the expected result.  Thrashings earn more points than close wins too.  And draws enhance the rating of the lower ranked player more.

In this table put together by Chris Holt, all of Newcastle United’s managers in the Premier League are ranked according to their ELO rating, that was achieved whilst at the club.

Kevin Keegan is way out ahead at the very top, then Sir Bobby Robson a clear second, with Rafa Benitez now in third.

Only three other Newcastle managers have a positive ELO rating, with Chris Hughton fourth highest, Glenn Roeder sixth, with Kevin Keegan fifth from his second spell, which was brought to a calamitous end by Mike Ashley.

rafa benitez

However, Chris Holt has also done a second table to give extra context to the ELO ratings.

This shows the estimated net spend (or profit) of all Newcastle bosses when it comes to transfers.

As you can see, after two years at St James Park, Rafa Benitez has risen to third highest in the ELO ratings, despite making the biggest profit on transfers.

Something  tells me that you would have to have a really, really club owner, who didn’t value such a manager…

rafa benitez

Chris Holt writing in The Mag – 27 March 2016:

‘Arpad Elo was born in Hungary in 1903.  Aged 10 he moved to the United States with his parents and later became a professor of physics at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He was also a prodigious Chess talent, the strongest in Milwaukee, he won the Wisconsin State Championship eight times.

Elo, is famous for combining his two loves. As a brilliant physicist, in 1960 he applied his mathematical skills to create the Elo rating system. It allowed Chess players to be rated more effectively than any previous system. By 1970 the World Chess Federation had adopted his method as their official ranking system.

Simplistically, how it works is that each competitor is assigned a rating based on their previous games. Points are added and removed from the Elo rating of a player depending on the outcome of games.  If a player with a low rating beats a player with a high rating, they gain a high number of points but if a player with a high rating beats a player with a low rating they get a lower number of points, because that’s the expected result.  Thrashings earn more points than close wins too.  And draws enhance the rating of the lower ranked player more.

Of course this elegant system didn’t apply only in chess, it could be used in any 2 player game.  Or any 2 team game. The formulas can be adjusted to suit games with different scoring systems and there are now elo rankings available online for most major sports.

FIFA’s thinking on Elo seems mixed up.  In the women’s game it is used as the official ranking system, however in the men’s game it is not.  That’s despite a 2009 study of 8 ranking methods showing that elo had the highest predictive capability for football matches, while the men’s FIFA ranking method performed poorly.  We’ve all seen minnows in the top 10 FIFA rankings and wondered what that was all about.

The Elo measure can be applied to managers as well as teams.  They can be graded on how they performed at single clubs or throughout their careers, and it provides an excellent insight into just how well a coach performed.  It accounts for the level the club/country found themselves when a manager arrived and where he left them when he departed.  It’s a far more detailed portrayal of a manager’s success than the basic count of games won, drawn or lost we’re used to seeing whenever a manager is sacked.’



  • Paul Patterson

    So in short, he’s doing a cracking job under the circumstances.
    Now he needs to be allowed to build a side and then see what he can achieve . .

    • Jezza

      I am convinced beyond any doubt that Rafa will be given sufficient funds to build a successful football team this summer, it just won’t be by Newcastle United.

      • Damon Horner

        Definitely under Ashley’s Newcastle. I’m pinning my hopes on a takeover…

      • TheNutJob

        😂😂😂

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        Bet you he’ll be here, this time you aren’t welching on the bet.

    • Phil

      I agree with you.

      But then you have the type of fan who looks at these tables and comes to the conclusion that Rafa isn’t that much better than Pardew!

      Never happy eh leazes?

      • TheNutJob

        he is, isn`t he
        😂😂😂😂😂😂

  • Phil

    Loving these 2 tables!! Shows what the idiots who were bashing Rafa during our poor run know.

    There is a reason why you lot wouldnt be let near a pub team and he has been at some of the biggest clubs in the world. Hopefully you now realise we are lucky to have him. If you feel the need to criticise him in the future please at least TRY and look at the bigger picture!

    • Leazes.

      If you understood that table, then not only are you a mindreading genius of the highest order then you must be a mathematician capable of deciphering it…fire away!

      I’m, all ears!

      • Phil

        It clearly explains how they gather the points in the first table and showing each managers net spend in the second.

        What are you struggling with?

        • Leazes.

          I’m not struggling…. I do know you can’t compare two unlike things and net spend is only relevant when attached to the value of the squad that was inherited. As for the arbitrary scoring, he’s stated it isn’t constant and is designed to exploit differences between opponents without giving any algorithm or criteria.

          So you say you can help me out here, okay what is the classification differential for the algorithm?

          • Phil

            I find it funny that impartial financial experts can explain that Rafa has exceeded considering his net spend. It has been broken down simply. Players bought players sold since he has been here.

            Yet you still get someone like yourself who has a large vocabulary thinking they know better.

            Russell Brand uses some big words….. He’s still a t055er who talks a load of rubbish. You remind me of him leazes

          • Leazes.

            Well I though you couldn’t answer the question because Chris’s numerical comparison is nonsense, but even funnier Jim Robertson thinks it makes sense and so do you!

            It would have been so easy to compare win ratios and excluding second tier results, but that wouldn’t be quite as impressive as a load of tosh masquerading as science!

            Yes by all means compare the quality of opposition but the resulting figures are meaningless without an explanation which is missing.

          • Phil

            I’m sure it was explained that you get less points if you win a game that you’d be expected to win.

            So Rafa won’t have scored as many points as he otherwise would have whilst in the championship. So why ignore that season?

            I was going to say I’d be interested to hear what you think of Rafa. Then I came to my senses and realised I don’t care.

            You spout a load of rubbish in the majority of comments I read from yourself. I get the impression you need to chill out, try not to take yourself so seriously and get a social life!

            Oh…. And pay your taxes!! 😴

          • Leazes.

            Right then straightforward question: how many points for beating manure away and how many for beating Watford at home?

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          Leazes’ doesn’t understand maths and even when he does, he lies.

          In reality, the tables are interesting but like many statistics, they don’t tell the whole story. there is no adjustment for the value of the squad the manager inherited not the division he was in. These figures are skewed because Rafa gained so many points in the Championship.

          EDIT: Oh dear, Leazes’ has repeated the same point I’m making, I worry when he agrees with me.

          • paul mclaughlan

            You’re the biggest liar I know. Why only yesterday you said Pardew would be with WBA next season.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            That’s just a wrong prediction and I’ve only been wrong once. Leazes and Jezza knowing post false information, mistakes are fine but both are calculating liars.

          • Jezza

            Ha ha, the troll always contradicts himself. This time last year he was repeatedly insisting that Ashley was going to give Rafa in excess of £100 million in the summer window. Then after the club spent next to nowt in that window he was banging on about how we were never going to be in a position to spend big due to FFP restrictions.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Liar, show me the post where I claimed that? we had a chatity bet based on spend, you lost and welcomed on the deal. You sir, are a hypocrite and a liar.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            For the record, Jezza is lying again.

  • Leazes.

    Rafa’s 84 points better than Pardew then….. but 319 worse than Keegan then, so he’s arbitrarily brilliant ….possibly ….depending upon how you adjust the criteria (whatever that is) to suit the game but miles closer to Pardew unfortunately!

    What you need now is a comparison with title winning managers so we can get our bearings here.

    Just ask Chris where the debt went as it appears to have been amalgamated into the purchase price of the club as I said!

    • glassjawsh-got-banned

      keegan and Sir Bobby were allowed to spend though… Keegan’s 44.2 million net from 1997 would be over 80 million today. Robson’s 31.4 from 2004 would be 47 in 2018. both are net total spends Rafa could only dream of.

      • TheNutJob

        how much has Rafa actually spent & net figures mean nothing to me just the total expenditure in 2 yrs

        • Leazes.

          Tell him its a waste of time replying to me as I blocked him last year.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        Depends what inflation rate you use, £44m included £15m for a world record fee, the world record fee today is around £200m

  • glassjawsh-got-banned

    tell us why none of this is true clarko (and why the real metrics exist solely within your mind)

  • Nut

    The net spend is schewed simply because it depends upon the quality of the team that a manager inherited from his predicessor and how many of those players they moved on/let go etc etc.

    It could be argued Benitez might have had a net spend further towards the top end had the club not been relegated.

    It might also be argued that on some transfers he has made mistakes Thauvin for example perhaps….. sold to cheap maybe?

    Don’t get me wrong I like Rafa as a manager, just I am simply pointing out the issue with tabulating a managers net spend.

    • Phil

      What was the other option with thauvin? A player who didn’t want to be here from the start and in the few chances he got proved exactly that.

      Keep a hold of him and hope somebody comes in and pays over the odds or cut your losses like we did. I haven’t once thought…. It’s a shame he’s gone mind. Could just do with him right now. He’s doing well in France. Best place for him

  • glassjawsh-got-banned

    hmmm what do the bottom 5 of the total net spend list have in common? ?? Maybe that a certain fat slug was (not) signing the checks for all of them…

  • ghostrider

    Net spends mean nothing.
    Overall spend by price of incoming player buy to outgoing player sale is what really counts.
    Anyone care to sort that out so we don’t see biased skewing.

    • Paul Patterson

      Ok, who’s first on this one?

    • Phil

      Rafa has spent an absolute fortune and we need mclaren back!!

      • ghostrider

        Considering his short time here I think he has spent a hell of a lot.
        The problem is, if it’s not supposed cash from the hip then it seems to not count.
        Total nonsense.
        A club like Newcastle United who have been struggling at the bottom of the premier league, bring in Rafa on around 6 million a year. 6 million a year for a relegation threatened club.

        Relegation under Rafa and a new season in the championship, ridding us of players like Sissoko and Wijnaldum, etc and bringing in some serious money….yet Rafa stays on his massive wage in the championship.

        Rafa is then handed plenty of money to buy what he needs.
        Same again when we get back to the premier league but again it’s money accrued from sales. Still the same thing but like I said, cash on the hip is apparently the only appeasement for some fans who like to argue that Rafa was handed a bag of Tudor crisps and a caramac to deal with.

        Like I said: Let’s see some reality instead of this net nonsense.

        • TheNutJob

          you have a valid point, net spend is nonsense

          • Phil

            Hahahahahahaha. If he is recouping more than he is spending how is that nonsense?

          • TheNutJob

            it`s who you buy not what`s in Fatty bank.
            how much has Rafa actually spent ?

          • Phil

            Why are you asking how much he has spent if what matters is who he buys? He can only buy what our budget dictates. If you want to know what he has spent try google. Or clarko

          • TheNutJob

            No thanks, forget it

    • Ba ba.

      #rafa out

    • Damon Horner

      Maybe you could sort that out and submit it to The Mag to publish?

      • ghostrider

        Maybe someone could.

        • Phil

          Why not you clever d!ck?

          • ghostrider

            How about you do it.

      • Down Under Mag

        I’m sure Clarko is busy scribbling his stats down on some toilet paper as we read this…

  • TheNutJob

    me dad loves ELO

    • Paul Patterson

      Mr Blue Sky . .

  • TheNutJob

    the Toons greatest manager in the last 40 years is KK & even the great Rafa
    won`t match him

    • Phil

      If Rafa is lucky enough to get an owner who backs his ambition then maybe he will. We were breaking world records when Keegan was here. We are struggling to break that record 20 odd years later

      • TheNutJob

        i think we`ll all be boxed up before we get an owner that will spend.
        looking at transfers this morning, clubs like the top 6 are going for players at £50 to £80m each, it`s potty

  • robbersdog

    I always liked ELO – ‘Mr Blue Sky’ was my favourite. No idea what Rafa has to do with them; was he the original bass player?

    • TheNutJob

      😂😂

    • Peaky

      I think you’ll find when Rafa puts on his long curly wig and shades he is actually Jeff Lynne…..I’ve never seen them together….have you ???

    • Rich Lawson

      If you look at import copies of the albums you find that he dubbed the vocals on the Spanish releases.

      • robbersdog

        Brilliant!

  • Wor Monga

    Who gives a monkeys about all this guff?… there’s only one table that matters in the game and that’s the Premier League table…we can see from history that Rafa is a better manager than all the rest (with the exception at this club of SBR and KK)… and because now of what he is achieving with the limited resources he’s had to work with…

    …whatsmore the PL is much more difficult now than the 90’s and the early part of this century because the top teams have almost sealed the upper echelons, by their spending power…we were up there once upon a time, but although an attempt was made to we couldn’t compete financially long term with Chelsea and Man U then, and we lost any chance of doing over recent years by the complete mismanagement of the footballing side by this owner who was just running it for his own amusement, and business interests…

    …the squad is improving, and if we keep Rafa it will keep on doing so…with a change of ownership we might stand a chance of competing again in the top ten again…they are the only things that matter in the end…not arguments over any obscure mathematical tables that some Hungarian Chess player has dreamed up!!!

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      you`re spot on, It`s a load Krap Minga
      💩💩💩

    • Danimal

      Last five lines of paragraph two.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    Mr Blue Sky was alright but I don’t rate them that much !

    • Down Under Mag

      Don’t bring me down!

  • Peaky

    Going to wait until U2,The Who or The Rolling Stones bring their ratings out before I comment and get involved here….

    • Come&TakeIt1836

      He brought me up out of the pit
      Out of the mire and clay

      How long to sing this song

      • Peaky

        Classic…..”40” I believe….

        • Come&TakeIt1836

          Yes. The legend I heard was Bono took 20 minutes to decide on the lyrics and 20 minutes to craft the music… total of 40 minutes to write the song. I have no idea if this is true.

          The words are essentially Psalm 40:1-3 so ‘40’ might just be a refence back to this…or both this and the legend…

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    We`ve got Clarko who was Woolworths chess champion
    😂😂😂
    you couldn`t make that 1 up in a million years

    • Peaky

      “There’s a starman waiting in the skies,
      He’d like to come and meet us,
      But he thinks he’ll blow our minds”……

    • thewildchimp

      It’s totally believable, considering they have to memorise tons of spreadsheets and diagrams about positioning if they want to compete.

  • Come&TakeIt1836

    The net spend number for Rafa is just a timing issue of dealing with a relegation. Let’s check the numbers again after this summer.

    And how did SM have a net spend of £74M in his short time here? According to the common diatribe, MA has never sanctioned any purchases… I guess this independent review proves that a fallacy. It just shows in the one brief window the club had the books right and cash available, they spent. Here is hoping history repeats itself this summer as it will be the first time we’ve had some cash since SM was here.

    • Danimal

      The problem is a total lack of a plan. Spend nowt, sail close to the wind, panic, spend big with terrible advice, sail close to the wind again, survive, gamble again, inevitably get relegated, spend just about enough to get back, gamble again, get away with it due to over performing staff, try again, fail, rinse and repeat. Do you think McClaren spent that money by the way? I think he was terrible but he was fronting up someone else’s mess.

      • Danimal

        Not surprised to see: relative success of Keegan, Hughton, Robson and Benitez. All of whom Ashley can’t stand (or wouldn’t have been able to in the case of SBR). Surprised to see: small net spend under Hippo’s Heed (lots of elderly free transfers I suppose) and any net spend at all under Dogleash, given how fast and hard he downgraded the squad from near champions to relegation fodder.

      • Come&TakeIt1836

        There was a plan. It was ‘sail close to the wind’ as you put it and survive until the books were straightened. When that was done the club planned to spend £50M a window for the next three windows (back when that was a lot).

        My comment was not on who spent it but that it was spent at all.

        SM single handedly deep-sixed the club’s pending resurgence by mismanaging the players brought in. JC was powerless to help. MA gets full credit for the financial plan and fix but blame for both of SM and JC and their outcomes as their boss. The club made it through two of those three windows but were forced to panic buy in the second due to McClaren’s failures.

        • Danimal

          You’re dreaming if you think McClaren was in charge of that transfer window. Actually, you’re not dreaming, you’re just being very convenient with the facts.

          • Come&TakeIt1836

            I never said SM was in charge of the transfer decisions. I’m not sure where or how you are reading that into any comment I’ve made. I do not think there is any disagreement to be had per the article the amount spent while he was here (it just so happens his name is beside the number whether he pulled triggers on deals or not) and, as I noted above, he mismanaged the talent to a startling level… MA (or his team) waited too long to respond and when he finally did the answer was JC. If you want to throw some blame towards Carr due to his accumulation of talent but not a team, that is fine but it is SM’s job to fashion a team from talent. There was adequate talent to at least survive but no team. SM’s time here was a complete failure to rather epic proportions.

        • Danimal

          You’re something else aren’t you? £50m per window? Well, now that Rafa has straightened the books, can we not go back to that £50m x 3? Sorry, it’s really difficult for a non-brown-noser like me to understand. Perhaps you can explain.

          • Come&TakeIt1836

            I’m not sure I totally follow your comment but i think you’re asking what I have been suggesting… we should be able now to go back and spend again. I think it will be at or over £50M this summer and would actually be more in following years as the cost of relegation is completely overcome. Maybe as much as £120M or more over the two windows each season.

            It is a difficult business model because the major cash flow (tv money) comes after the season is over but before the books close. This year should look great in an annual snapshot report but the money will have all arrived after the spending took place which is difficult during the year from a cash flow perspective. Next year should be considerably better.

    • Down Under Mag

      We all know that it wasn’t McLackers spending that much, it was Carr under his ‘false god’ persona still reputable as a money maker to Ashley after the Cabaye deal. Rafa has bought some tripe in his time here but has also seen a profit…as he has done at every club he’s been at. No manager gets it right all the time, but I would trust Rafa with a big spend than McClaren or Carr any day of the week.

      • Come&TakeIt1836

        Fully agree

    • Jezza

      The spending under McClaren in the summer of 2015 was purely a knee jerk reaction by Ashley after seeing Swansea City make a £20 million profit in 18 months on Wilfried Bony. A profit that could have been Ashley’s had he not refused to sanction the £9 million transfer fee when Graham Carr recommended the player in 2013.

      • Come&TakeIt1836

        Maybe so… the point I am making was he spent (for whatever the motivation was) which is counter the normal posts I see that say things like he has never spent anything or he sticks all the money in his pocket or he has always tried to spend an absolute minimum. It is certainly true he was spending the minimum while fixing the books and he has spent the minimum in the last three windows when there was no cash but there were two windows in between where the club announced we’ll in advance the books were fixed and team investment would occur and it actually did happen.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Debate over on the Ronnie, who`s the best central defender,
    Lascelles or John Stones

    • Andy Mac

      Or JT the legend in his own lunchtime ?

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        who do you think

        • Peaky

          Shitus Bramble
          😂😂😂

          • Danimal

            Marcelino.

          • Paul Patterson

            Boumsong?

    • pedrodelgardo

      Woodgate is probably still better than both.

  • Toon

    So many holes in these stats to even bother! Rafa is doing a decent job, don’t need pointless stats like this

  • pedrodelgardo

    A mug takes these sorts of stats too seriously times change and money’s value with it, different starting points and the club left in a variety of states, the evidence is out there week in week out played out before your very eyes in real time. Understand what you are watching and enjoy. Rafa knows this game inside out don’t worry about that. The physio’s room is empty and we are staying up – love it!