In a brilliant interview with the Guardian, Christian Atsu has described Rafa Benitez as being ‘like a father’ to him – saying he encourages him ‘almost every day’ and is someone you can talk to ‘about anything’.
This comes as quite an admission given the winger has lost his own father himself, with Atsu continuing to do brilliant charity work to help those in poverty back in Ghana.
Here’s what he had to say during his in-depth interview with the Guardian:
“Rafa’s like a father, he encourages me almost every day.
“Tactically Rafa’s very detailed but he’s not just about tactics and coaching. He’s very good at the human side of management which is so important.
“Everyone here finds Rafa warm. If you have a problem you can go and speak to him, you can talk to him about anything.
“He keeps pushing everyone in training every day; he teaches you how to be a professional on and off the pitch.”
There’s been some who claim Rafa’s a brilliant tactician but someone who’s man management skills are a little distant – but Atsu’s assessment of his style here paints a very different picture.
Atsu then stressed the importance of keeping Rafa at the club this summer – also revealing why Almiron’s arrival has given the team a confidence boost:
“It’s very important Rafa stays,”
“Newcastle’s a big club and Rafa’s a great manager, one of the best in the world, one of the few to have won the Champions League. He’s great for this club, with him here, big players will come to Newcastle and we can win trophies.”
“The team’s confidence has lifted,”
“Miguel’s very good technically, very quick. We’ve always been very difficult to break down but Miguel will give us something different.”
Atsu has been the weak link in our side from an attacking perspective in the last few weeks, but let’s hope Almiron’s arrival really pushes him on.
After all, I don’t see him getting in ahead of Almiron or Perez if he doesn’t seriously improve his final ball.