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Opinion

Rafa Benitez third time lucky with Nottingham Forest?

1 year ago
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Rafa Benitez is now linked across the media with Nottingham Forest.

The newly promoted team dropping to rock bottom on Monday night after having been smashed 4-0 by local rivals Leicester.

By the sound of things, Steve Cooper not under pressure from the Forest fans. However, when it comes to the club’s owners, maybe a very different story.

Much media talk of the Forest owners seeing a new manager as potentially the best / only way of avoiding instant relegation.

This to a backdrop of claims of Steve Cooper not exactly having had total control when it came to the crazy summer transfer action, some 23 (or was it more in the end???) players signed after promotion was secured.

No surprise that Rafa Benitez is now linked with Nottingham Forest. An out of work manager with a great CV and somebody with plenty of experience of working under awkward club owners and operating in not the best of circumstances.

Forest look increasingly like a team falling apart, especially at the back. It is now 16 goals conceded in the last four Premier League matches and that quartet of games includes playing against a then bottom Leicester side, plus 3-2 home defeats to the two other promoted clubs, having led 2-0 against Bournemouth and 1-0 against Fulham.

Rafa Benitez has proved a master at building solid, disciplined defences from at times, very average players, Could this be right up his street?

As a Newcastle United fan, I hope he does show his quality at least once more in management. Could it prove third time lucky with Nottingham Forest?

The Rafa Benitez management CV timeline went Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli, Real Madrid, before then…Newcastle United.

Rafa Benitez took a real risk at that time and I, personally, will always be grateful that he did.

Sadly for him, I think Rafa Benitez would have been far better off simply waiting for a more normal club / opportunity after leaving Real Madrid in January 2016.

We are now closing in on seven years since he left arguably the biggest club in the world and would he have ended up in the state he now finds himself, if not for going to work for Mike Ashley back then in March 2016?

Rafa Benitez did it for all the right reasons and could see the potential of Newcastle United.

He did a brilliant job at St James’ Park and that was despite zero net spend over the course of his 3+ years at Newcastle.

Instant promotion and then two very credible Premier League seasons despite Mike Ashley completely undermining him.

Plus of course there were seriously good signs showing in his final months at Newcastle United, his final 28 Premier League matches saw Newcastle with the eighth best form in the top tier, whilst his last 16 PL matches had NUFC with fifth best form and fifth highest total of goals.

With even reasonable investment allowed finally at that point, where would Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United have been now? Even with Mike Ashley still here?!!

I am most definitely not unhappy that Ashley has gone and I really rate Eddie Howe. It isn’t a case of wanting Rafa back at St James’ Park.

It is more an acknowledgement of the fact that he was / is one of the good guys and fought our (Newcastle fans’) corner when he was here.

Wishing him well now, is NOT in any way showing anything negative towards Eddie Howe and Newcastle United now.

I just want to see Rafa Benitez also enjoying better times now, doing what he does best, managing football teams.

In my opinion, these years since leaving Newcastle United in June 2019 have massively been a case of bad timing and bad choices.

With no ideal job on the horizon in Europe, Rafa went for an experience in China and Covid helped ensure that was a disaster.

Plus, when he then parted company, the former Newcastle boss somehow thought it a great idea to try and make a go of it with the Scouse Mackems. Oh dear. The Everton fans were predictably as shocking as you’d have predicted, as well as death threats from the lunatic fringe, quite clearly the majority of the rest of them already wanted Rafa Benitez sacked before he had even taken charge of a single game.

So now nine months after escaping from Everton, for a now 62 year old Rafa Benitez, is Nottingham Forest the perfect chance for him to bounce back, or a third in a row terrible decision (well, four in a row, if you include deciding to work for Mike Ashley!)?

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