The Chronicle released part one of a superb exclusive Q & A with Rafa Benitez today, seeing the Spaniard send a powerful message to the Geordie faithful as we enter the final stages of the season.
The big interview included a host of questions regarding form, tactics and expectations. What stood out to me, however, was the subject of home support, as Benitez offered a rallying call, in a bid to see fans, players and staff all unite as we go into what could be a defining moment for the future of our beloved football club.
Asked how the fans could help in the final eight games, Benitez said:
Our fans have been magnificent during the whole season, they are incredible.
Now we have reached the final stage of the season it is the time to be even better, if they can.
They can help with their support of our players. Even if we make mistakes the key is to help the players to try again, to be sure they have the confidence and support to succeed in these final eight games.”
The statement that followed from the brilliant Benitez was perhaps the best part of the entire interview for me, as he said:
“We are together in this race, we are at our strongest when we are united. The fans, the players, the staff – all of us helping to achieve our shared goal.”
I found this to be such an appropriate and powerful message to fans in particular.
We need each and every person inside St.James’ Park to be supporting their team as Newcastle enter the final push in this long, hard battle for promotion. With 5 of the final 8 games to be played at home this season, the ‘Toon Army’ have a huge part to play and given Benitez’s rallying call, he knows it.
Benitez was then asked if he thought the St.James’ Park atmosphere has made it difficult for the players recently or whether he was in fact pleased with the home crowd. Benitez said:
“Our supporters deserve the greatest respect this season. They always amaze us with their passion and their commitment at home and away.”
But it is true in all things in life, that those closest to you can often be the most critical. That is normal, they have earned the right to criticise and criticism is important for improvement.
However at this stage of the season, with so much at stake, encouragement can help the players achieve better results. A positive atmosphere is very helpful for the players, they take the energy from the stands and use it raise their game.
It is also up to us to lift our fans by playing better. As I said before, all of us must be united.”
I would encourage fans to read part one of The Chronicle’s full article in what was a timely message from the Newcastle United boss.
Hopefully this message makes fans realise the importance of ‘support’ in the home games to come, with no room now for negativity and hostility as we enter the defining moment of our clubs future.