Rafa Benitez is the only glue that holds everything together at Newcastle United.

Newcastle fans don’t want to find out what life would be like without him, certainly it would be fear and not anticipation as you waited to see who Mike Ashley replaced the Spaniard with.

Looking back at past NUFC managers it is all a bit strange, looking for those who you yearned for when they ended up in a dugout elsewhere.

Losing Arthur Cox after winning promotion back in 1984 with Keegan, Waddle and Beardsley, was ludicrous, but that is 34 years ago.

Dalglish, Gullit, Souness, Roeder, Allardyce, Kinnear, Hughton, Pardew, Carver, McClaren…many of them never managed again in the Premier League again and whilst Roeder was pretty well liked as a former player, only Chris Hughton inspired any real affection for what he achieved as a manager at St James Park.

Sir Bobby Robson didn’t end up in the opposition dugout against Newcastle United, so we never found out what that would feel like.

Which leaves us with Kevin Keegan.

He called time at Newcastle in January 1997, eventually returning to management with Fulham in September 1997. However, that was in the third tier and after promotion in 1999 he moved over to manage England full-time.

Following England, Keegan’s next port of call was Manchester City in May 2001, who had just been relegated to the second tier.

Man City were drawn against Premier League Newcastle in the FA Cup and Keegan at last returned to St James Park, over five years since his departure. Keegan got a massive welcome back and Newcastle won thanks to a Nobby Solano goal, so everybody was happy…well on Tyneside anyway.

It wasn’t just the five years that took the edge off this reunion, after enduring Dalglish and Gullit, Newcastle had hit lucky again with Sir Bobby Robson and he was now making them contenders.

Newcastle had reached Christmas 2001 top of the Premier League and when Man City and Keegan visited in the FA Cup, they were still in there fighting for the title, actually in the following match going to Sunderland where a Dabizas winner kept that bubbling away.

Kevin Keegan was still a king on Tyneside but by the time he returned, Newcastle fans had a Geordie knight fighting their corner with a competitive team playing exciting football.

It was nice to see Kevin but both he and us had moved on.

Moving forward 16 years and if Rafa Benitez ends up in another Premier League dugout, there will be no Sir Bobby Robson equivalent taking his place, not now and not ever under Mike Ashley.

If Ashley does intend to stay on, which all the signs sadly point to, then he has to understand that Rafa Benitez needs to be part of that package.

Hopefully for all of us that is a major strength, with even Mike Ashley realising that stark truth, so that Rafa Benitez has an unbelievably strong hand when getting what he needs this summer.

  • Rich Lawson

    What a pointless article,in the unlikely event of Rafa’ being sat on the away bench he would still receive a hero’s welcome whatever the result.We are proper football fans and give credit where it is due.

    • Leazes.

      Its not going to happen because if Rafa leaves then the obvious outcome is that we’ll be relegated again.

      ….. Jim doesn’t apply ‘joined up thinking’.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        Without Rafa that squad would surely be relegated & he`ll be a mug to sign a contract before new players are in the door

        • Leazes.

          There are some fools about that think this squad is a capable premiership outfit, when in reality if we hadn’t had that fluke smash and grab against Manure then the momentum for that little run of games wouldn’t have materialised. and we would have been in the deep clarts.

          If we narrowly escape then its a ‘Wake up Call’ not an excuse for celebration…..

          • nevfur

            Few if any below the top six are capable premier league outfits and any of them could go down next season. Many teams also achieve a “fluke smash and grab” result or two during the season.
            Saying all that we certainly do need quite a few good signings to go into next season with any kind of confidence

          • Kneebotherm8

            Yeah,we all know who those fools are…………the usual suspects on this site…

      • Weyhhadaway

        We still have next season, if he walks he wants to say in the UK so pick from any one of Everton, Leicester, Gooners, spurs, Chelski, where he could show up and put another nail in our coffin.

  • MadMag83

    It’s a shame Keegan isn’t still managing a league side.

  • Scott Robinson

    Duncan Norville ‘Chase me’ sitting in the dugout with the blonde hair. ‘YouTube’ him!

  • Jamie Smith

    Rafa 6/1 favourite for the Leicester job.

    With the inevitability of what’s coming here I think he’ll reluctantly see that as a better option. Just a case of seeing out the season and waiting for the transfer stonewalling