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Rafa Benitez on Tuesday: “After a long path…I´m happy to begin this new project with Dalian Yifang.”

2 years ago
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Rafa Benitez has a new job.

Less than 36 hours after his Newcastle United deal ran out, the Spaniard is now in charge of Dalian Yifang.

At the halfway point of their season, they have 17 points from 15 games and are 10th of 16th in the Chinese Super League.

The season started in March and ends on 1 December and yesterday (1 July) the Chinese transfer window opened.

Rafa Benitez was introduced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon (morning in UK time) by Dalian Yifang and also used his own Twitter account to break the news: ‘After a long path… We start a new challenge! I´m happy to begin this new project with Dalian Yifang.’

Newcastle fans have been left still on that ‘long path’ as unlike the now ex-manager, there is no end to our contract with NUFC.

The only hope remains a takeover but with the clock ticking ever faster towards the new season, even this best case scenario (new owners) will still see some very serious challenges, at least in the short-term.

As for a worst case scenario, well Mike Ashley simply continuing with these 51 days (so far) of negativity since the end of last season will surely lead to his biggest NUFC mess yet, which is saying something.

It might not cheer you up but well worth a read of these few extracts below from the excellent George Caulkin exclusive with Rafa Benitez yesterday for The Times;

Off to China:

Benítez’s contract at Newcastle, for so long such a source of angst, expired last night; his reluctant departure has sparked a guttural howl from fans. By now he will be in the Far East, where he is set to join Dalian Yifang of the Chinese Super League, which just goes to show how quickly football can pivot. In transit, he spoke to The Times for his only interview.

Unfulfilled potential:

“I’m just disappointed we couldn’t achieve more, that we couldn’t compete and reach the real potential of this fantastic club.

“What I said from day one is what I still feel — I can see the potential of the team, the club, the city, the fans,” he says. “You cannot go away from home and take 9,000 fans without that potential. It means there’s something big there, something really important, as long as you manage it properly.”

Wanted to stay:

“I wanted to stay, 100 per cent. I wanted to develop a project, to be competitive, to compete in the cups and to be as close as possible to the top of the league, but you have to have the tools. If you don’t, then you suffer, because you’re at the bottom of the table, every point is massive and you know that a mistake could mean relegation. That would be a disaster for the whole city.

“If the people at the top of the club had the same ideas (as me), I would still be there.”

Did Mike Ashley want him to stay?:

So trust had gone at Newcastle? “Yes,” he says. “We didn’t have that, so I had to choose.” Does he believe that Ashley and Charnley were eager for him to carry on? “Obviously, I had the feeling they were really pleased for me to stay at the beginning, but later on, when we had different views in terms of how to move forward, I couldn’t see this support,” he says. “I couldn’t see this clear desire I could feel at the beginning.”

New training ground:

“When I came to Newcastle, they gave me the plans for the new training ground, I was talking to the architect about changing a few things,” he says, smiling now. “And after three years . . . they painted the walls.

“If you want to attract players, it’s about the facilities, the contract, the city, the way you treat them, the way you treat the agents. If you want to keep them happy, you keep improving. If you want to have a good atmosphere, a real bond, you have to give players the right facilities for when they hang around together. We had that at a lot of clubs. It’s just the way.”

The 16 May 2019 meeting in London:

“I was expecting we would finish the meeting and everything would be done,” he says. “That was my thought. I thought I would be staying.

“Common sense says you’ve been successful on the pitch, you’d reached the target the club wanted which was to stay in the Premier League and the same in terms of business — they’d made a profit. Any owner would surely say, ‘okay, on and off the pitch, you’ve delivered, so this will be an easy conversation’ and then you try to finalise the details. And it was not like that.”

To read the full interview which is essential reading go HERE, if you aren’t registered already you can read the Rafa Benitez interview for free by registering with The Times

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