Rafa simply must stay.

Newcastle United is putting up a very good fight in the scramble for Premier League safety. If the club stays up, it does so with Rafa Benitez as the manager (in the proper sense) and we as fans can look forward to supporting a club looking to make genuine progress for the first time under Mike Ashley’s reign.

It all sounds like a dream. A warm, welcoming light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel. Trouble is, it may well be too little, too late. Why the board did not sack Steve McClaren before the Spain trip we will never know. We all knew he was a dead man walking and the players were not responding to him or his team.

Rafa was sacked on the 4th January by Los Galacticos. It may be that he wanted to assess his options and have a break from the game. However, just think how different our league position might look today if the club had canned Schteve in January and given Rafa complete control over the winter transfer window. Why Carr was trusted to blow another 30 odd million is anybody’s guess after the debacle of his summer signings for the 2nd season in a row.

What we are left with now feels like a cruel joke. Mike Ashley has given us a genuine world class manager for the first time under his reign. The result? A man with big cojones who knows what he is talking about has galvanised a squad we all thought was devoid of effort, pride and even basic footballing skills. Players like Anita, Sissoko and Tiote have effectively come back from the dead because we have a manager who knows how to get the best from them – and where their best positions are. He has taught the team how to defend as a solid unit instead a bunch of headless chickens and he has shown no hesitation in making it clear that names and reputations mean nothing to him – by dropping the likes of Shelvey, Wijnaldum and Mitrovic.

Rafa will do what is best for the club. Not what is best for his ‘big’ players. The players will take this on the chin too, because you don’t question a man with Rafa Benitez’ track record. As a result the team has pulled off a strong victory against Swansea and more recently, two extremely impressive comebacks – first at home to money bags Manchester City and then away at Liverpool in a stadium driven by another world class manager and fans of equal passion to the Geordies. All this with a squad full of players that he did not sign. Rafa has taken a lop sided squad and identified a system it can thrive in. He has then applied that system and made the players believe in it. Results continue to follow. Yes – at long last we have a real leader at the club.

So why is his appointment cruel? Because we have so little time left with him before we go back to the same old dross. That is, if we get relegated despite his best efforts. Sunderland have two games in hand, are level on points with Newcastle and have a far superior goal difference. Despite the Toon’s recent resurgence, the club is still relying on our relegation rivals having a stinker of a run in. The odds are still firmly stacked against us.

All fingers and toes are crossed that Rafa and his charges pull off the great escape. If Rafa manages it, it will go down in history with Houdini’s water torture trick and the British commonwealth soldiers escaping ze German PoW camp during world war 2. In fact, it would be even better. Generations will be talking about it all over the globe. There would be annual celebrations with fireworks – and films made about it. Seriously…?

We need to face the very real possibility though, that Rafa’s appointment was just too late in the game to have a meaningful incluence. In that event, we face a fate even worse than relegation- a future without Rafa Benitez. We go back to bang average managers and a squad devoid of passion or leadership. Maybe we get promoted, maybe we don’t. What does it matter? We will just be treading water again for years on end.

That is why the bigger question the board and fans should be asking is not whether we stay up or go down, but can we make Rafa stay no matter what the outcome of this season is? Mike Ashley needs to strike a deal early with Rafa – before the season ends and Rafa gets poached. He needs to cede total control of all footballing matters to the Spanish mastermind and need to give him any assurances he wishes.

The fans need to sing his name loud and proud – all game, every game. Make him feel loved. He has given hints in recent interviews of wanting the kind of relationship he still enjoys with Liverpool fans. The man breathes football and he wants a new spiritual home. We can give it to him and I think that would be enough to convince him to stay in the event of relegation. But we all need to do our bit to make him feel like it would be worth it. Starting with Mike Ashley and finishing with us, the fans.

About Shamrock

Like everyone here, support Newcastle United. Not the easiest side to feel good about at times, but it's our side!

201 thoughts on “Rafa simply must stay.

  1. aye shamrock & they had leicester @ 5000/1 for the title 😯

    they generally get thing right tho – but i hope not regarding us.

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  2. Just looking at Stoke sat at 10th on 47pts. They are 6 ahead of Everton in 11th and 7 behind Saints in 8th – so they have very little to play for either way really.
    My hope is that because they have been turned over 4-0 in their last 2 games, Mark Hughes will not like that. I don’t see him sitting back and letting his team switch off.
    He’ll want to stop a mini loosing streak with a win against the Scum I reckon.

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  3. I find it impossible to see Sunderland beating Stoke or Chelsea.

    At 4:45 on Saturday we will be on 33 points and Sunderland at best will be on 32.

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  4. Wow after calling for relegation because “at least we would get rid of Jabba”, the main protagonist for us going down is now the most positive for us to stay up.. I love it when certain bloggers choose to simply forget all the all the **** they sprouted previously.
    😆 😆

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  5. Sunderland under Fat Sam average 1.08 point per game and that’s with them playing “really well” by all accounts. We are averaging 1 point per game in the same time and we have been complete rank bad! Now we are starting to play well, so I expect that to go up.

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  6. AMF maybe my memory isn’t as good as yours but on STUART most of the things he forecast have came about,to beat Swansea,draw M/C,draw at L/P,scum would scrape draws there are other things that came out right he’s also been trying to keep the moral up on the blog which you must agree is a good thing,Ime not trying to bull the guy up but let’s give a bit of credit,there are things I have dis-agreed with him but that’s the point of a blog to have your own views is it not??

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  7. Ice, Don’t worry about Aussie. He’s bitter and twisted.

    Just relax and enjoy the rest of the season as I see the stars aligning and a 9 point haul to follow… 🙂

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  8. Ice too right. Yes I know Stuart has said he wants rid of Ashly as do most of us, but he is as you said keeping positive and upbeat. None of us really want the R word. In with him all the way and can see his logic. We just need our lot to perform and pick up these points and just hope the others don’t. I can see 1 to 3 points more for Norw

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  9. That’s the spirit, Simon. Keep the faith, man!

    There’s logic to my predictions and lets be honest, when have I ever been wrong? 🙄 🙂

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  10. The site is a lot more upbeat than it was three weeks ago,at times STU has had to use a big stick lol.

    I see we are going to sign another young keeper under 21 international,who’s signing is it Rafa, Carr ??

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  11. Yup, all that tosh about all our players being trash and not caring for the club being used as a defence for Schteve has been blown out the water – because now that utter complete joke of a man is gone we look like a real side again and should actually have beaten the Mancs but for a terrible lino decision.

    Some of the players are indeed total ****e and don’t seemingly care (Taylor) but we’ve actually seen that osme of the lads do – and they aren’t afraid of letting people know or talking out about it now.

    Just a shame we appointed two jokers after selling Pardew, because the likelihood is that we will still get relegated. Imagine if Palace then went on to win the FA Cup to boot… 😐

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  12. Never wrong Stuart!!
    But yes I can see your logic and tend to agree with you there, all we can do, yes of course it’s out of our hands and never can tell, but when looking at current form over past couple of weeks, Norwich out of it, between us and Sunderland and way it’s going, think we can nick it by 3-4 points. Reckon we can go into spurs game relaxed

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  13. Think Pardew got W/H to the final if my memory serves me right,still got the bullet like as his PL record was crap

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  14. I think the point Aussie is making is that Stu was one of the biggest critics of those saying we would be safe last season & referred to those people as deluded – yet now he is the one out front shouting ‘charge!!!’.

    Different manager, different circumstances I know – but a big turn around all the same.

    Listen, I’m all for positivity & I much prefer the new enthusiasm from Stu – it’s refreshing & nice to come onto a blog that is not all doom & gloom.

    I’m not quite up there leading the charge with Stu, but depending on how results go this weekend I could make up some ground on him 😉

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  15. I think Pardew will have his players right up for the game and the players will be right up for it hoping to get picked for the final it’s going to be a very hard game

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  16. Newkie:
    Yup, all that tosh about all our players being trash and not caring for the club being used as a defence for Schteve has been blown out the water – because now that utter complete joke of a man is gone we look like a real side again and should actually have beaten the Mancs but for a terrible lino decision.

    Some of the players are indeed total ****e and don’t seemingly care (Taylor) but we’ve actually seen that osme of the lads do – and they aren’t afraid of letting people know or talking out about it now.

    Just a shame we appointed two jokers after selling Pardew, because the likelihood is that we will still get relegated. Imagine if Palace then went on to win the FA Cup to boot… ?

    Newk – I hear you mate, but I’m still not laying all the blame with McClaren like.
    The players aren’t trash – but they were playing trash.
    They may be playing like they care now Rafa is here – but I still didn’t see much before his arrival.

    Credit to Lascelles for coming out and saying it.

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  17. To be fair, Sharpy, I don’t think last season I said anyone ws delusional for saying we would stay up. In fact I don’t remember ever saying we would go down last season. I did however call peoplw who thought we would be in the top 8-10 delusional because there were big gaps in the squad that meant we were never going to be up there. So I am not too sure Aussie has a point or even you, Sharpy based on what you think I said last season.

    But I said before the Swansea game, if we beat Swansea it will give us a huge confidence boost and will allow us to pick up points against City and Liverpool and then put us in a great position to win our next two very winnable games. So far so good.

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  18. Ice – I’ve gone the opposite, I reckon pards is still a bit chummy with Ashley and while they aren’t 100% safe I don’t think he’d be adverse to doing us a favour by not really motivating his side. That being said, they are in free fall in the league and are not solely concentrating on the cup, so we have to beat them regardless.

    I don’t particularly care about them winning the cup – what I do care about is the amount it will be used as a stick by neutral fans to beat us more than they already do about pretty much anything. I’m sick of hearing about how “we sacked him” etc from people who clearly have no memory at all.

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  19. I will tell you who I do think are delusional. People who don’t think McCLaren is to blame for this mess! He couldn’t motivate his players, he constantly picked the wrong team and with him we would have been relegated before now. He was responsible for the piss poor performances.

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  20. Sharpy17: Newk – I hear you mate, but I’m still not laying all the blame with McClaren like.
    The players aren’t trash – but they were playing trash.
    They may be playing like they care now Rafa is here – but I still didn’t see much before his arrival.

    Credit to Lascelles for coming out and saying it.

    Sharpy – but that’s the point surely? McClaren was either directing them with his trash ideas, or they didn’t care for him because he’s a joke of a man and a manager. I tend to think it’s both, as I was hugely critical of him when we were even outing him as a candidate let alone when we brought him in.

    Players down tools all the time when the manager has lost them – or is just a bad manager. The point is you get rid of them asap and get someone else in because you can’t just sell every player. And lets face it, basically every player went backwards under him.

    I don’t even think Rafa is that amazing personally, I wouldn’t call him “world class” – but he is a hell of a lot better than anyone we’ve had recently. He doesn’t even need to be world class to get our players playing at the level, which they’re starting to do now.

    Now if he wins us the league next year I might change my mind…whether that’s the Prem or the Championship 😆

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  21. Stuart79:
    I will tell you who I do think are delusional.People who don’t think McCLaren is to blame for this mess!He couldn’t motivate his players, he constantly picked the wrong team and with him we would have been relegated before now. He was responsible for the piss poor performances.

    Have to agree. Footballers are footballers, making no excuses for them, but throwing strops is what they do. Just look at Chelsea. Up to the manager t osort them out – and Rafa is doing exactly that.

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  22. NEWKIE you have to admit Rafa has won just about everything there is to play for,in your view how do you grade him? who do you class as world class? that have won more than Rafa

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  23. OUR FIXTURES:

    Palace at Home: They will be looking at the cup final. They have also won only 1 in their last 15 games or something ridiculous like that. The fact we’re at home and the atmosphere will be great will impact this also. 3-1 WIN

    Villa Away: Where do we start? They are complete gash and their players are even happy they have been relegated finally… Regardless of the fact they’re already relegated, they’re actually really really poor. One of the worst PL teams of all time. We must be favourites to win this one. 0-2 WIN!

    Spurs at Home – I think the league will be over by then and they will be completely deflated. It will be impossible for them to feel any other way. I don’t think they will have anything to play for, be all over the place mentally and have their players looking towards the Euros. 2-1 WIN!

    SUNDERLAND FIXTURES:

    Stoke Away – Never a easy place to go. Hughes will not be happy with their last few results and at home he will demand a better performance. Just can’t see them winning. 2-1 Home win!

    Chelsea at Home – They just don’t seem to win at home. Drew against WBA, Arsenal and I can’t see them getting anything out of Chelsea who actually have a very good away record. Hazard, Willian, Costa, Pedro and Fabregas will score. Again just can’t see them winning this one. 2-0 Away win!

    Everton Home – Not as easy as everyone thinks but then again they’re not playing well. Although they have one of the best away records in the league by the way… I will give them a 2-1 home win!

    Watford away – Never easy away in the PL but there’s an argument to say Watford will be an easier game than most. On the other hand, the players may well feel they owe their manager a performance as it’s likley he will be sacked. Don’t discount a inspired performance from them. Although I reckon 2-2.

    NORWICH FIXTURES:

    Lose every game!

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  24. Ice – he has, and obviously his CL win with Liverpool has gone down as, and will remain one of the best stories ever. However, I do feel that at Liverpool he really failed to compete on multiple fronts – he never won the league, and actually he made some very dodgy purchases as manager. I know every manager makes mistakes, but given the money Liverpool were throwing around he was gradually taking them backwards (imo) and it was best for both parties to leave.

    I couldn’t understand how Madrid decided to replace Ancelotti with him. I would put Carlo and SAF as world class and above Benitez for instance.

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  25. Agree somewhat Newkie – there were a lot of Liverpool fans happy to see the back of him. Sometimes the playing style was a bit negative and he made some really poor signings. And lots of them. I think his record was buying 66 players and selling 72.
    However, he’s definitely the best we can do and by far the best since Robson. The guy oozes authority, totally loves his football and loves English football and it seems he’s loving the fans here. I’d love him to stay and get us back up next season. (appreciate the optimism Stuart but the scum have a big edge on us and are very hard to beat. Do you think Everton fans would accept him with his Liverpool record? Hope not cos Martinez has lost it there.)
    Great thread Shamrock – thanks!

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  26. NEWKIE R/M are a very strange club beats me what more can a club want is it the president that’s making these decisions or is it the bank of Spain as a lot of their money comes from them hence they can pay big wages,something not right there Imo,yes Rafa could have done a bit better at L/P but. did he really get the players he wanted as those yank owners liked their fingers in the pie so they fell out big time,on buys nobody made bad buys than Fergie and look how well they done

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  27. Georgio, I can’t see Rafa at Everton not after being at Pool like. I’m watching Watford with interest as Flores is a gonner, Pozzo wants him gone end of season and apparently the players are fully expecting him to leave and they are playing like they know he’s gone. Word is Pozzo has a coach in mind and always likes to improve on previous coach, have a feeling if we drop he may try for Rafa.

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  28. Stu/Newkie – I said solely responsible, and I don’t think that McClaren was solely responsible either.
    The players have a responsibly, a professional obligation to do their best for the club they are playing for – irrespective of who’s in charge.

    I’m not defending Mc coz he did not do his job to a good enough standard and was rightly sacked – but a lot of our players and board members did not do their jobs to a good enough standard either.

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  29. The players follow the managers lead. If they’re not performing then he should have dropped them and replaced them with other players. he didn’t he carried on doing th same thing over and over. The results are 100% his responsibility. That’s why managers get sacked.

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  30. Stuart79:
    The players follow the managers lead.If they’re not performing then he should have dropped them and replaced them with other players.he didn’t he carried on doing th same thing over and over.The results are 100% his responsibility.That’s why managers get sacked.

    So the players are no way at any fault in your mind then?

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  31. Georgio/Ice – exactly. I’m not questioning he is our best since Robson, that is without a doubt, I just wouldn’t put him in that very top tier. Fergie brought success to such a degree he could afford to buy stinkers, then ship them out when it didn’t work. Rafa was on a downward spiral trying to replace quality – although he did win the CL with some very rag tag players!

    Sharpy – no doubt about it, but players can always play better and any manager can use that excuse imo, otherwise how do you look at our players getting more points against Chelsea than against any other side when Pards was in charge?

    Don’t disagree with you that some lack heart and ability – most sides have a few that do, but no way are we this much worse than some of the sides in this divison – yet our position is undeniable, quite likely to be relegated in second bottom.

    Don’t disagree with the board either – I said Charnley would be worse than Llambias when he was appointed. He proved me right by getting Carver and then Schteve in the first place!

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  32. Sharpy – The players might have been doing what they were told, or they might not have understood what McClaren wanted them to do. That isn’t their fault. Managers who aren’t very good quickly lose the respect of the players and that’s human nature I am afraid. The players are good players – certainly better than what McClaren had them serving up. Our players are no different to every other set of players who improve when a new manager goes to a club. Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and realise that good managers make as big a positive difference as poor managers make a big negative difference.

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  33. If the players weren’t motivated enough that is the managers fault -100%! It is their job to motivate them. Even the best still need motivating and if the players aren’t inspired by the manager then things go wrong very quickly.

    I ultimately blame Charnley for choosing him though, as everybody in the world (apart from Sharpy) knew he’d be a disaster and had done nothing to show why he deserved the job. I do remember you saying Sharpy that you thought he was a decent choice, not the best but decent. Couldn’t believe it then and now? Well… Enough said!

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  34. I remember ‘ never wrong’ Stuart giving us numerous posts predicting our 3-0 win at Norwich but I am hoping his current prediction of winning our final three games comes true.
    From what I have heard , Rafa has been very active at the training ground with all of the squads from the first team down to the juniors — not really what I would expect from someone only concerned with seeing out the season and hopefully keeping the first team in the premiership.
    So my prediction is that Rafa is here for the long haul regardless of which league we are in next season.

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  35. Stuart79:
    If the players weren’t motivated enough that is the managers fault -100%! It is their job to motivate them.Even the best still need motivating and if the players aren’t inspired by the manager then things go wrong very quickly.

    I ultimately blame Charnley for choosing him though, as everybody in the world (apart from Sharpy) knew he’d be a disaster and had done nothing to show why he deserved the job.I do remember you saying Sharpy that you thought he was a decent choice, not the best but decent. Couldn’t believe it then and now? Well… Enough said!

    Stu – I did think he’d do a decent enough job, especially when they were backing him with new players as well.
    But I think you pay a little too much attention to my posts if you think I was the only one who thought that.

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  36. Players do respond to good managers rather than poor ones no good saying players should do their job no matter who is manager it does matter a lot,a good example of that was when Rafa came he said players that were injured are no longer injured now,mind imo those sort of players shouldn’t be at the club anyway

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  37. Stu – to clarify my last post, when I said a decent job I didn’t for a second think top 10 – and never claimed that.
    I was saying 12-15th – which based on the fact we were in relegation battles the previous 2 season, I thought I’d take that at the time.
    I didn’t see us getting a top manager and the likes of Remi Garde wouldn’t have achieved much better than Mc IMO.

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  38. Mostly it comes down to waiting for the last 3 matches now. A win on the weekend and we’re still in it and on to the next one. I do see a huge change in our players though. They are working much harder than with McLaren and Rafa has cobbled together a decent starting 11 who fight for each other on the pitch. All hail Rafa!!!

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  39. I find reducing our survival to Big Sam’s points average per game fanciful at best. I find totally ignoring the confidence boost Sunderland will get from the Arsenal draw in terms of a platform for their future results while using nothing but our decent draws against top four teams as confidence in terms of our future results deluded.

    I hope Stuart is right. I’ve been a supporter of relegation to **** Ashley up but now we have an actual quality manager, I want us to stay up now as there is a glimmer of hope but I find the logic in reaching Stuart’s conclusions…. well, I wouldn’t use it personally.

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  40. Im not writing Sunderland off. They just smashed their relwegation rivals by 3 goals away from home then outplayed a Top 4 side and were unlucky not to win. It will be a tight run in.

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  41. Did anybody else notice that when Shelvey came on he was playing as an attacking midfielder about 20 yards further up the pitch? I think we might see him a little bit more now as I do not think Rafa has given up on him just maybe thought he would be overcommitted against his former clubs and has a tendency to be rash in the tackle.

    He is not a defensive midfielder and being the “quarterback” is not suitable for our present situation. With 3 games left we cannot afford hollywood passes that have a 25% success rate so I see where Rafa is coming from. I don’t think we should give up on Shelvey though as I think he would be an asset for a team that is NOT fighting for its life.

    I am sure that now I think I have figured out what Rafa is doing that he will start him against Palace just to prove I know nothing 🙂

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  42. G2: you not getting involved in that ridiculousness on Ed’s bog over the past 2 days? It has been a bit mad on there although I had to skim a lot of it because it was so childish and from people saying they were 50+. Surprised Ed has let it go so long.

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  43. No matter what anyone says, there are a load of ifs, buts and theories… The plain fact is that our destiny, whether we stay up or go down is out of our hands. We are now reliant on others to f*ck up. We can win all 3 of our remaining games but if Norwich and Scum also win or just match our results we are down. We can assume what we like, but we are reliant on others and that is a very bad place to be. The scum’s goal difference is also worth an extra point so all the odds are against us.

    I’m born and bred Toon, I eat, sleep and breath black and white, but I’m so low right now I just hate this position in which we find ourselves. At least if our destiny is in our own hands there is real hope … But it is not. We needed to beat Norwich and scum. We didn’t. Now we have to just hope …

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  44. Interesting read Shamrock thanks. I’d love Rafa to stay and believe he will do if we stay up. If we are relegated though I just don’t think we will be able to financially afford to keep him. There has never been a more important season to stay in the top flight with the money clubs will receive next season. The ramifications of going down will mean it will more than likely be impossible for us to pay Rafa’s sizable wages. Just hope we can stay up because, like you say, he’s the first top class manager to come in and the future could be very bright with him leading the club.

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