The growing optimism that Benitez will remain at Newcastle is a shining glimmer of hope to United fans. More than that, it is a beacon, penetrating through the relegation fog which would have lay thick on the Tyne for months.
Meteorological metaphor aside, the importance of Rafa staying in charge has been made abundantly clear by the Newcastle fans; and Ashley, seems to have taken note.
I must admit that a few weeks ago, I just could not see Benitez remaining in charge should we fall below the relegation watershed. But all the talk following Newcastle’s incredible demolition of Spurs on Sunday is encouraging positive.
Players who I’d assumed would be fleeing the Magpies’ nest quicker than Mark Viduka are even coming out claiming they are open to staying in a bid to get Newcastle back up. Others have been a little more cryptic, expectedly so, in fairness. With relegation confirmed only a week ago, you would normally see players deflect questions of transfer to their agents, neither admitting they want a move away or committing their futures to the club until fully assessing their options. Yet all the noises coming out of St James’ Park seem to be that of togetherness.
That was certainly reflected in the performance on Sunday. This is a squad of players who should never have been relegated. For all the talk of poor recruitment, and yes much of it has been poor. Newcastle were still left with a squad good enough to go the last six Premier league games unbeaten under the guidance of someone who actually knows what they are doing.
As enjoyable as it was to watch Newcastle dismantle Spurs, it was also infuriatingly frustrating. Where has that been all season? Where has Sissoko been? Mitrovic, until his moment of utter madness, was brilliant. The whole side, even when down to ten, in fact, especially when down to ten, were together, organised and hungry. Breaking forwards relentlessly with pace and desire. Where has it been?
Yet strangely enough relegation doesn’t, at the moment, seem like the end. With the prospect of Benitez, and some of the more appealing players still with Newcastle and a humbled Mike Ashley restructuring the model, it could be the beginning. The beginning of something great. With a bit of perspective we should be looking at where Newcastle could be in three years, not where we will be next season. Hopefully next week will bring us the news we all crave and we can look forward to a summer preparing for a promotion drive, with Rafa at the forefront.
A quick personal note from me, SRF, now that the season has finished. Thank you to all you readers and bloggers who have taken the time to read my articles, comment on and discuss them. I have really enjoyed writing for this site since February and hope you have enjoyed reading them.
Remember, we are the fans. We have fans all over the UK, indeed, all over the world. Players, managers, directors and owners will come and go. The club will remain. We are Newcastle, we are United. HTL