Rafa Benitez – Can he survive this at Everton for Newcastle United reunion in 5 weeks?
Exactly five weeks today, Rafa Benitez will finally have his reunion with the Newcastle United fans.
Everton travel to St James Park on Tuesday 8 February 2022, almost three years since Mike Ashley forced the then NUFC manager out.
Rafa Benitez forced out by Ashley despite Newcastle having the eighth best form in the Premier League in his final 28 games, the fifth best form in the PL (and fifth highest number of goals) in his final 16 matches.
The Spaniard replaced by Steve Bruce, who managed only seven wins in his final 38 NUFC matches, whilst also ensuring that in 2021, only one of the 92 clubs in the four divisions averaged less points per league game during the calendar year.
The reunion at St James Park will be a strange one, especially strange if Rafa Benitez isn’t there!
Rafa Benitez attracted ridiculous levels of abuse from Everton fans once he was mentioned in connection with the Goodison job and absolutely nothing appears to have changed since then.
Benitez taking the job despite previous managers and the board wasting so much money on poor signings, it meant FFP rules didn’t allow him any transfer budget in the summer. Having to rely on free transfers and cheap and cheerful signings. On top of that, he has had numerous injuries to deal with.
As things stand, Rafa Benitez has Everton eight points clear of relegation and a game in hand on the bottom two. In his 20 matches so far, Everton have won six, drawn four and lost ten. Not great but nothing like the kind of results deserving of the kind of abuse you see below from Everton fans demanding that he is sacked.
Quite incredible the criticism that was piled on Newcastle fans from journalists, pundits and fans of other clubs, Everton supporters some of the most prominent, when we were dealing with the total mess that was Steve Bruce. Bruce got his media mates to put across the message that he had been subjected to the worst abuse any manager in the history of the game had ever received, however, aside from the anonymous social media trolls that exist everywhere sadly, it wasn’t a fraction as bad as what Rafa Benitez gets from Everton fans.
They ask which other club would keep a manager who managed only two wins in fifteen games, well, Newcastle fans were ridiculed for wanting Steve Bruce out when he managed only two wins in twenty one!
Everton fans saying that loads of outsiders believe they are too big a club to go down…well I have to say that I have never seen absolutely anybody referring to them as that.
With both Ashley relegations and the many other times he almost ‘succeeded’, I never saw Newcastle fans talking about their club as too big to go down.
I find it amusing that Everton fans continually feel so hard done by and yet it is they who have forced out manager after manager. I find it so strange though that the media never then criticise them, as they have done when Newcastle fans have had to deal with having appalling managers such as Bruce, McClaren and Carver.
When it comes to feeling hard done by, Everton fans are in a class of their own. The reality is that to have experienced anything other than top tier football as an Everton supporter, you would now be in your mid-late eighties, as 1953/54 was the last season they spent in the second tier.
You can understand to an extent the disappointment of Everton fans at their current league position of 15th, as they clearly now believe they are something special thanks to the sugar daddy ownership that has spent ridiculous amounts of money in recent years on players. However, it is the level of abuse and criticism aimed at Benitez that is incredible, especially when they look to make out that he is a terrible manager full stop. Not somebody with more top trophies (Champions League, two Europa Leagues, two La Liga titles etc etc) than all but a very small number of his competitors. Once again, compare this to Newcastle fans and Steve Bruce, somebody who in his entire 20+ years in management had won nothing and never even finished top nine in the Premier League.
If Rafa Benitez does survive long enough to visit St James Park in five weeks time, we are set to see one of the more bizarre matchday experiences. A standing ovation from just short of fifty thousand Geordies thanking the former manager for his efforts in the Ashley era when given zero net spend over more than three years at the club, whilst at the same time getting abused by his current ‘fans’ in the away end at SJP.
Funny old game.
Everton fans commenting via their Grand Old Team message board:
‘I know plenty of outsiders are saying we are “too big to go down”…but I think, in reality any of us that have watched the utter dross we get served up on gamedays at the moment know all too well that it is definitely a possibility, Rafael does not know what he’s up to.’
‘2 wins in 15. Name another club in the country where the manager doesn’t get sacked for that?’
‘One thing Benitez has done is make Allardyce go up in my estimation.
My despise for this man deep into my soul.’
‘Please, just sack this stubborn, fossil of a dinosaur. He hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing. It was time for him to go after the Liverpool debacle. We are a laughing stock under him.’
‘Rafa Benitez is useless and has no idea how to play in the modern era.’
‘I would guess 90% of fans wishing to see him binned immediately.’
‘It’s out of order to have a go at the fans for wanting the manager out.’
‘Tactics , man management , coaching , PR. Rafa Benitez is a disaster . At any other club , he would be sacked.’
‘Most can see that he will continue with his ancient tactics and his obstinate behaviour so why wait until we actually reach the bottom 3!’
‘We will drop into bottom 3 in next 5/6 games if he keeps his stupid tactics and being so obstinate.’
‘Benitez is the culprit.’
‘Our squad is much too good for how we are playing.’
‘All this ‘the fans have never given him a fair crack because he’s ex-Liverpool blah blah blah’ is irrelevant.’
‘The tide is about to come in like a Tsunami wave. Rafa is finished with the support, the ones who actually want the best for us at least.’
‘The supporters hate the fat man.’
‘Our squad have been together years too. It’s full of international players and we have a supposedly top class manager. There is NO excuse for being below Brentford.’
‘I still can’t get my head around how much we’re supposedly paying him. 6m a year for a manager NOBODY else wanted at all. Who failed in China. Who got Newcastle relegated and was outmanaged by Steve fn Bruce.’
‘BBC1. Prime time. Saturday night. National audience.
The 3k in the away end need to make it clear that this manager has to go.’
‘There is no mitigation for what we are witnessing, it’s a shambles.’
‘Home stands finally turning on him with ‘FAT SPANISH WAITER’ songs.
Losing to a side we’ve never lost at home to.
Any other manager would have been sacked today. Instead, this fella gets the FA Cup game on Saturday, and if he loses that, will get Leicester in a week. Pathetic.’
‘So poor coach, communicator, fitness trainer, team selector, recruiter, motivator. Is there anything this fella is actually good at.’
‘No other club would retain a manager with Benitez’ record.’
‘We are only very lucky that Newcastle and Burnley are so bad this year, but Dyche and Burnley are strong and might get a run together, and Newcastle might buy their way out of of this.’
‘Anyone who supports this manager is clueless, deluded or a red.’
‘1 win in 12 anywhere else he’s already gone.’
‘First manager to manage both us and them in the last 100 years, first manager to take Everton down in almost 70 years.’
‘I honestly am a bit gobsmacked at how tactically inept he is. He’s really really bad and falls out with everyone to boot. What a state we are in.’
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]