He touched on a range of topics, from his move to China to his time on Tyneside, but there was one Newcastle player he singled out for special praise – and that was the unsung hero Paul Dummett.
The local lad made the shift to left-sided centre-back under the Spaniard and has continued to impress under Bruce in what is now considered his best position.
Here’s what Rafa had to say about Dummett, revealing just why he is such an ‘important player’ in our team:
“All the teams and the managers have to have a player you can use to pass the messages. You have to use them to be sure that your system is stronger and solid.
“Paul is one of those players. He can play as a centre-back or a left-back. If you tell him to do this or that, he is capable of doing it, capable to understand.
“You are not asking him to pass players and make 20 crosses every game. You have to ask him to talk to the players around him.
“He is good in the air, you have to pass the ball simple and be sure that we don’t give the ball away in defence. So little things in terms of attacking football he can do well, but also he can keep the organisation in defence and he can help the players around him.
“He is an important player for a team when you want to be consistent. You have individual players who can win you individual games but they are not consistent.
“If you want to stay in the Premier League, go to the top 10, win the title, you need players who can make that difference but also players you can be sure they will give a seven out of 10 every game.”
This is high praise for Dummett because Rafa really is meticulous and sees every detail. The fact that Rafa singled him out – and this isn’t the first time – counts for a lot.
Dummett was clearly the perfect player for Rafa because he was all about organisation, consistency and following out the manager’s instructions to a tee.
It’s interesting that Rafa mentions how he’s reliable when it comes to keeping the ball and doing the simple things well. This characteristic has often been considered his downfall because of his limited technical ability, but he is improving.
He has been found out a couple of times this season and sometimes hands possession back to the opposing team from careless long balls, but he rarely tries to over play.
Regardless of his ability on the ball, Dummett has been and is a great servant to the club. He is very dependable and very rarely lets the team down.
Above all else, I think what we really love about Dummett is his willingness to put his head where not many would or put his body on the line for the team like a true Geordie.
He may not be our classiest defender, but it’s fair to say he’s been one of the clubs unsung heroes over the past few years.