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Opinion

Rafa Benitez positivity has doubled crowds in China as Dalian Yifang win again

3 years ago
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Rafa Benitez has taken charge of his second game in the Chinese Super League.

Dalian Yifang were exactly halfway through their season when Rafa arrived and in danger of relegation, with crowds falling.

The last home match before Rafa Benitez was appointed saw 21,099 fans turn up to watch a 2-2 draw with Tianjin Tianhai on 23 June.

The former Newcastle boss oversaw a 3-1 home win against Henan Jianye eight days ago (Sunday 7 July) as the new manager inspired them to a victory that helped ease relegation worries.

It wasn’t only on the pitch that the Chinese club’s investment in Rafa Benitez paid instant dividends though, as his appointment added 11,000 to the gate, with 32,019 coming out to show their support for the new manager.

This weekend saw the Spaniard take charge of his second Dalian Yifang match, once again at home.

Falling behind to an early penalty, Rafa’s team pulled it around for an eventual exciting 3-2 victory, Boateng and Carrasco(2) getting the goals.

That second consecutive win has now taken Dalian Yifang 12 points clear of the relegation zone and all but cleared away any worries in that direction, Benitez’ new club rising now to seventh of 16 and with 13 games remaining are now only five points off fourth place in the table.

With Salomon Rondon reported to be signing shortly (it is the mid-season transfer window currently in China) and a new massive state of the art £230m training complex and other facilities under construction, the positivity is flowing through the club.

Just as Newcastle fans did, particularly when averaging over 51,000 in the Championship, the Dalian Yifang supporters are also showing their support and confidence in the new manager leading their club. The latest crowd on Friday for Rafa’s second win was 41,949, doubling the home crowd for that last home match before his arrival.

It is impossible not to draw comparisons with his former club.

As results, crowds and fan confidence/hope are all growing under Rafa Benitez at Dalian Yifang, at Newcastle United we are seeing thousands and thousands of people thinking just what is the point?

Mike Ashley going to more extreme lengths than ever before in turning fans away from supporting their club.

Truly astonishing that with only three weeks of the transfer window remaining there has not been a single signing and the club/team have no manager, with the two strikers who scored 23 of the 42 goals having been allowed to leave with no effort to keep them.

Even if only retaining Rafa Benitez, signing Salomon Rondon and allowing the manager to invest the £30m on a replacement for Ayoze Perez, just think how very different we would all be feeling now.

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