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Opinion

5 Rafa Benitez Champions League clubs in action last night

4 weeks ago
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It is still only 80 days since Rafa Benitez officially left Newcastle United.

In his usual classy way, Mike Ashley got the club to put out an official statement six days earlier saying there was no way the manager would be staying on…without giving Rafa any prior warning that this statement was going to be made.

Misery was heaped on misery when the NUFC owner then made clear what direction he was taking the club in.

Returning to his preferred model of a patsy Head Coach who would only train and pick the team, with no influence on any important matters such as transfers in and out.

The fact that the choice of patsy was Steve Bruce, only made matters worse. Somebody with a shocking record in the Premier League (of those with 250 PL games or more, only Bryan Robson has a worse record) and who has spent almost the entire past decade managing in the Championship.

If Rafa Benitez was going to go, there should have been an awful lot of replacements to get the job before you ended up scraping the barrel with Bruce.

Just look at the six clubs the pair of them managed before taking the Newcastle United post:

Rafa Benitez: Real Madrid, Napoli, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Valencia

Steve Bruce: Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Hull, Sunderland, Wigan, Birmingham

I was watching (and enjoying, as both English clubs got beat!) the Champions League football last night and it clicked.

Five Rafa Benitez Champions League clubs in action, including two Rafa derbies:

Group E:

Napoli 2 Liverpool 0

Group F:

Inter Milan 1 Slavia Prague 1

Group H:

Chelsea 0 Valencia 1

Then tonight you have the Group A clash between PSG and Real Madrid.

All six Rafa clubs in Champions League action within 24 hours, reminding us all of the level he was used to managing at and where he felt he could eventually take Newcastle to, given half decent support.

In contrast, last night Steve Bruce’s old club Sunderland were fortunate to hold on to a 1-1 home draw against Rotherham in League One.

Of the other five clubs Bruce most recently managed, Aston Villa are 17th in the Premier League (ironically kept out of the relegation zone by Newcastle on goal difference).

Then the other four are in the Championship: Birmingham 8th, Sheffield Wednesday 9th, Hull 20th, Wigan 21st.

A bit like if you buy a lot of Championship players, then that is where you will almost certainly end up.

If you employ a Championship manager such as Steve Bruce, the same applies.

However, if you employ a Champions League manager such as Rafa Benitez AND properly support him, then…

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