The Match of the Day pundit highlights the fact Benitez took a job that few other elite-level managers would consider taking, ultimately proving that he could showcase his managerial skills at both ends of the spectrum.
Wright also believes he was one of few who ‘had a go’ against greats like Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson during his time with Liverpool – not to mention winning them the UEFA Champions League.
Speaking to the BBC, Wright said:
“He is one of the only top managers who would probably take a job like Newcastle, when he could have gone anywhere else in the world and got a decent job, and couldn’t do any more.
“You know how pragmatic he can be and how he can organise his team – you see that with what he did at Newcastle.
“Rafa has to be in there, not just because of the Champions League, but he had a go with Arsene Wenger, he had a go with Sir Alex in the Premier League, and for what he has done for Newcastle, he has to be in there.”
There is no disputing that Rafa is a world-class manager, but for me, only Sir Alex, Arsene Wenger, and Jose Mourinho can be considered the three ‘greats’ of the Premier League era.
While Wright is being polite towards our club and one of our former managers – much like he has done in the past – it does seem like he is being slightly over complimentary on this one if he’s comparing him to the ‘big three’.
Rafa never won the league for a start, although he came close with Liverpool in 2009 before imploding with his well-documented ‘facts’ outburst.
Rafa may sit 4th in the list, just behind the three previously mentioned, although his work while in charge of Newcastle shouldn’t go unnoticed. However, Wright’s words indicate that Rafa came to St James’ Park off his own back, and to prove a point that he could manage a lower-end Premier League club.
The fact is that he had just been peddled by Real Madrid after a disappointing spell at Los Blancos, and that we provided an ambitious but nevertheless solitary route back into football management at the highest level.
I love Rafa Benitez, and wish deeply that he was still at the helm at Newcastle United, but let’s not blur the truth here with a rose-tinted view on who is or who isn’t one of the greatest managers of Premier League history…
Ferguson, Mourinho, Wenger – with a long gap following them before you start talking about Rafa Benitez.