Now I hate to mention the R word, or several in the case of this header, but lets face it, we can’t ignore our perilous position. It would seem we have a mountain to climb to secure our premier league status with just 8 games remaining.
Rafa Benitez has really taken on the task with vigour, getting all the negativity away from the first team squad, including stopping the under 21 players that were hanging around the first team. Even Peter Beardsley has been ousted and the likes of Cheick Tiote and any other negative or moody first teamers will also be told to stay away from Benitez chosen group of first teamers.
I think it’s safe to say he doesn’t suffer fools gladly and you will quickly become persona non grata if you don’t pull your weight or fight for the cause. So it would seem he is doing his best to establish a sense of brotherhood and togetherness amongst the first team, encouraging them to eat and socialise together. After all, this is how they operate at Leicester city and it seems to work for them. The only problem with this approach is it mustn’t be forced as I can’t see it working. At Leicester they are genuine friends who socialise not just with each other but with each others families too.
What ever changes and ploys Benitez chooses to adopt, he has little time to make them effective – hampered somewhat by the overall quality within the squad. We have seen some good progress with the defence. It was immediately noticed in the Leicester City game where we looked calm and passed it out from the back well. However, in the Derby match the same old lack luster, slow play seemed to rear it’s ugly head again and the first half wasn’t pretty at all. Second half we seemed to up our workrate, helped in part by Sunderland sitting back and a Rafa rollicking no doubt.
But.. does Benitez really have time to save us? Are we so wrapped up in the arrival of such a good coach that we are in danger of forgetting part of the reason we are where we are, namely those players? Do we have a squad who are truly able to step up, helped along by good solid tactical knowledge? After all he can only pass on his vision and knowledge to them, in the end it’s up to them to implement that vision on the game.
If the unthinkable were to happen and we are relegated, we then have the question of whether Rafa Benitez stays or goes. Will he fancy a rebuilding job given we are likely to lose several good players and some not so good ones hopefully too? Or will the board opt to let him go and bring in a coach along the lines of Nigel Pearson, who some might argue would be possibly better equipped for that type of fight?
There is also the question of whether or not the team we deployed in that division would have the ability to bounce back like our previous team managed in that league. If I’m honest I cannot see a Toon ressurection like before. There are no Barton’s, Carroll’s and Nolan’s this time – or in the near future it would seem, not with Mike Ashley telling us the financial cupboard is bare. If this is true then we can’t sign good battling footballers because they cost a pretty penny – even in that league.
So it would seem we have to pray and if you aren’t religious, plain hope that we survive and Benitez is allowed to build something really special with Newcastle…… After all – haven’t we waited long enough?