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Rafa Benitez says comparing Newcastle United seasons isn’t simple especially if ignoring certain factors

3 weeks ago
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Rafa Benitez has been speaking to the English media once again.

The former Newcastle manager is the cover star of the new issue of Four Four Two magazine and is their star interview of the issue.

Whilst now Rafa has also spoken to BBC Radio 5 Live.

Responding to the constant comparisons to the points totals for Newcastle early this season compared to last season, Rafa Benitez says that people often forget the bigger picture.

He makes the point of how well Newcastle ended up finishing last season, especially when some money was at last spent in bringing Miguel Almiron to St James Park. With Almiron’s help Newcastle had the fifth best form in the final 16 games of last season and the eighth best form over the last 28 games.

Rafa Benitez has also made clear that he will interested in a return to manage in England but only after doing his job with Dalian Yifang. Their season ends in just over two weeks time and his contract is set to end in December 2021, which would  be the end of his second full season there. He even says that managing England would be an interesting challenge if the opportunity came along in the future.

However, like all of these things, it would be interesting to see what would happen if a major Premier League/European club came in for Rafa in December.

Rafa Benitez speaking on the BBC Radio 5 Live Football Daily podcast:

“After two years in the Premier League they [Newcastle United] are doing well.

“Some people don’t remember and they try to compare.

“After we signed Almiron [on 31 January 2019] we finished the second part of the league strong and finished 7th [in terms of late season form, though it was actually even better than that with (see below) NUFC having the fifth best form over the final 16 games of last season, whilst it was eighth best form (see below) over the course of final 28 games].

“Now it is a new team, it is a new manager and they have spent some money.

“I think he [Steve Bruce] is doing well but they tried to compare every year and it is totally different.”

Premier League form over the course of final 16 games of last (2018/19) season:

premier league form table 2018/19 from match week 23

Premier League form over the course of final 28 games of last (2018/19) season:

premier league form table 2018/19 from match week 11

Coming back to England?

“In the future I will come back to England.

“I am happy here and it is not I want to go back right now, it is I would like to go in the future.

“Here [in China] you can watch every Premier League game and I follow all the Premier League because you need to know the players and the league.

“My idea in the future would be [working in] the Premier League.

“I want to stay close to my family and it is a league I like a lot.

“I will be young when I finish my contract here [December 2021],

“What we are doing now is forward thinking.

“We are following the Premier League, following the Spanish League. We are updated and we are ready.

“We want to do well here and after we will consider anything for sure.”

Managing England in the future?

“I have an advantage, I can understand what the fans want.

“I know the league, I know the players. I like coaching every day.

“We are talking about a few years [time] and you never know.

“It is another challenge but sometimes when I say that, people say ‘Rafa wants to coach Spain’, ‘not now’. ‘Rafa wants to coach England’. ‘Not now’. In the future, for sure it would be a good challenge and a big challenge.”

Competing with ping pong:

“They don’t play football [in China] as kids.

“Here they play ping pong.

“Fifty million people play ping pong, football was more difficult. Now there is a massive investment in the grassroots.

“They want to organise the World Cup in 2030 and in 2040 they want to be one of the top sides in the world. They are doing everything to improve football. They have to start with the schools. It is a question of time.

“You have to pass your message and you have to find your way. They need to understand. You use examples like ping pong to make sure they understand what you are trying to express.”

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