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Rafa Benitez asked if he will come back to Newcastle and does Mike Ashley really want to sell NUFC

3 months ago
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Rafa Benitez has signed up to be a regular contributor to The Athletic.

In his first column for the site, he took the opportunity to answer back to embarrassing attacks on him from Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley.

Ashley and his stooge using the match programme to have a go at the former NUFC manager and Rafa Benitez giving an excellent brutal response (see HERE).

Wednesday has seen Rafa Benitez make his latest contribution to The Athletic.

The site inviting subscribers to put in questions for the top class manager.

Needless to say, many of them were regarding Newcastle United.

Players he’d love to have managed? Shearer and Keegan!

Sean Longstaff playing for England?

Returning to manage Newcastle?

Formations and keeping in touch with NUFC players/

Here are just a few of the Rafa Benitez questions and answers.

Rafa Benitez answering questions from subscribers to The Athletic:

Do you believe Mike Ashley actually wants to sell Newcastle United?

I think I’ve said everything I want to say about the politics of Newcastle. I want to talk about football now.

How much of a talent is Sean Longstaff and how far do you believe he can go?

I think he has the potential to play for England but we have to be careful when we talk too much about players and the national team. He is humble, he’s a worker, but football can change quickly so I think it is better to be sure he continues approaching the game thinking about the next one as the most important.

How did managing in the English Championship compare to the other leagues you’ve worked in?

The 4-3-3 was the dominant formation in Premier League football in the not-too-distant past – but now the 5-3-2 (or 3-5-2, however you look at it) appears to have taken over the reins. What do you believe the next tactical innovation to be widely adopted across the league will be?

I think that people tried to replicate the 4-3-3 system because the top sides are so strong now. A lot of managers will recognise that one of the best ways to try and stop the top sides is by playing with five at the back because then you have one extra player in defence. The key is the balance. We were playing five in the back at Newcastle but in attack it is a 3-4-3 formation. That is crucial to find the balance to defend with numbers, and then attack with numbers too.

Which former player would you liked to have managed?

Beckenbauer was my idol, so definitely him. But always when I was young I enjoyed watching Pele. In terms of English players, Kevin Keegan was playing against Real Madrid when I was in Spain and he was at Hamburg — he was a fantastic player and they thrashed Real Madrid in the away game. And, of course, Alan Shearer!

How receptive would you be to a return to Newcastle United one day and what would need to happen for you to do so?

I like to enjoy the challenge I have now in China. I am always committed whenever I accept a challenge, but I will not hide my feelings that in the future I would like to come back to the Premier League.

You had such a strong relationship with the Newcastle players. Were you able to have a proper goodbye with them before you left for China or was there no time?

I was in contact with them and I can say that 99, if not 100 per cent of them, we shared messages. Still I am in contact with them. Football is strange in that sense – you can spend years at a club but then you leave suddenly. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t still have a relationship with them.

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