Rafa Benitez tells Gazzetta Dello Sport he is fighting ‘Against the Cyclops’ at Newcastle United
Rafa Benitez continues to be seen as an important figure by the Italian media.
Having managed both Napoli and Inter Milan, their media always take an active interest in the now Newcastle boss, with regular interviews appearing in their newspapers.
The latest one is in Gazzetta Dello Sport this weekend, Rafa Benitez asked about life at Newcastle as well as questioned about football in Serie A.
When quizzed about life at St James Park, Rafa says ‘The fans love me, the team is recovering’, in reference to consecutive victories over Watford and Bournemouth following 11 games without a win.
Amusingly, the NUFC boss follow that up by declaring ‘Let’s try to fight against the Cyclops with our best weapon: the (actual) football matches.’
The Cyclops of course being a race of mythical savage one-eyed grotesque giants.
Whilst we would all of course like to believe Rafa Benitez pictures Mike Ashley as a grotesque savage (not mythical, unfortunately) creature with a single eye in the middle of his face, I don’t think that is quite what the manager was alluding to.
Instead, Rafa appears to be alluding to people, especially the media, seeing things with too narrow a view, rather than looking at the bigger picture.
When Newcastle were going through such a difficult start to the season, Benitez repeatedly called for people to not panic or get too carried away with it (just as he does when things are going well). The manager wanting fans and media to look at the bigger picture which included a tough set of opening fixtures, early injuries and lack of fitness in certain players, as well as the lack of investment in the summer transfer window – which included the handicap of many of the signings (Muto, Ki, Scar, Rondon etc) not having a proper pre-season with Newcastle.
Rafa Benitez summing this up in the interview by saying that the only/best way to counter fans/media looking at things too narrowly/negatively, is for the players to get results and produce performances on the pitch.
Speaking personally, just for now, I will keep an image in my head of Mike Ashley as a grotesque one-eyed monster…
Rafa Benitez interviewed by Gazzetta Dello Sport:
How is it going at Newcastle?
“The fans love me, the team is recovering.
“Let’s try to fight against the Cyclops with our best weapon: the (actual) football matches.
“Aiming for the highest (possible) goals as I have always done in my career.”
Why did you decide to leave Napoli?
“President De Laurentiis offered me a multi-year contract.
“But my two daughters were small and I gave priority to the family, who wanted to go back to England or Spain.
“I have a great memory of those two beautiful years: Naples has remained in my heart.
“We won two titles, but above all, a group of great players was born, well-matched.”
What stays with you from Naples?
“The walks in a unique city and many human relationships.
“In every place I go I always try to get myself into reality.”
Is Koulibaly (who Rafa brought to Napoli) now the best defender in the world?
“One of the best.
“Already at the level of the most talked about in the Premier League and can still improve.
“For me, a central defender gives the best of himself between 28 and 32 years.”
Who is Benitez now?
“I have changed too.
“I keep looking for the best balance on and off the field.
“I have a young staff, we work together to find the mix that helps players get the most out of them.
“The fans are passionate if you always try to win.”
Would you go back to Italy?
“I still want to fight to win titles and trophies, to compete at the highest levels. And the Italian Serie A is one of the most important championships in the world.
“I also have the advantage of speaking the language, of knowing and admiring the Italian culture: this helps.
“So you never know in the future what will happen.”
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]