Why Rafa Benitez is the man to lead a Saudi revolution at St James’ Park – Not Mauricio Pochettino

15 May 2016. A 10-man, already relegated Newcastle United have just thumped Spurs 5-1 at a sold-out St James’ on the final day of the season.

Despite being unbeaten in our previous five games, our supporters flocked through the turnstiles knowing that Championship football was a formality – but we had one mission in mind..


This was the most unifying moment of the Ashley era between the players and the fans. The only time where, despite obvious difficulties headed our way, we still had hope. This was the moment Rafa “got it” at Newcastle. If he stayed on, it gave us a chance.

Benitez chucked out the mercenaries, the deadwood, and the players who simply didn’t want to be here that summer and turned us into a team of grafters, securing the Championship title on the final day. After years of Pardew, Carver and McClaren, we finally had a team that played for the black-and-white shirt.

More than anything, he saw the potential of the football club and the city. Go back and watch his pitch-side interview with Jamie Carragher after our 1-0 win at Leicester last season, with our fans still signing in the corner.

You can tell that he loves this club – and we loved him.

A startling fact is that we made an £11m profit on transfers in the three-and-a-half years Rafa was at the helm. We had a Champions League manager operating with a League One budget. Yes, some of his signings were poor (I’m looking at you Joselu), but imagine what this man could do with some serious dough to spend.

The man rumoured to be first-choice by the Saudis is Mauricio Pochettino, a highly sought-after manager who built a decent team at Southampton and an impressive one at Spurs, all on a relatively low budget. With Man United and Real Madrid sniffing about for the Argentines services, you could say that, alongside Klopp at Liverpool, Pochettino is very much flavour of the month.

However, let me give you another startling fact – Pochettino has won the same amount of trophies that Steve Bruce has as a manager. Zilch. Rafa, on the other hand, is a born winner.

Pochettino managed a Spurs side that choked in a Premier League title race – Twice. Rafa Benitez pulled off one of the hardest gigs in football by winning La Liga with Valencia at the expense of Real Madrid and Barcelona. He also did this twice.

The Argentine took an unfancied Spurs into the Champions League final, losing to Liverpool in the biggest game in his career so far.

When Rafa took a modest Liverpool team to Istanbul against the star-studded AC Milan side of the mid-noughties, we all know how that Champions League final went. Do you see where I am getting at here?

Rafa has won it all at the top-level and he loves being an underdog. Once the Saudi takeover is complete, that is exactly what we will be.

Give the “wee club in the North-East” a bucket-load of cash, a manager who understands the club and its city, and a united fanbase behind them and let’s see how far it goes.

12 thoughts on “Why Rafa Benitez is the man to lead a Saudi revolution at St James’ Park – Not Mauricio Pochettino

  1. Not a fan of going back
    Not a fan of Poch, a nearly man like Keegan the manager.
    Not sure who I want
    But will back whoever turns up


  2. Poch over achieved with Spurs consistently with the 6th LOWEST net spend in the PL during his 5 years in charge. I’d be happy with him in charge.

    Not sure the club will want to pay £20m to buy Rafa out of his contract and his football is a bit on the dull side – but won’t grumble if he did come back – because he has pedigree.

    But I’d rather a manager that sets sides up to entertain.


  3. Don’t know if anyone has considered why Benitez might not come back is his honour, regarding contracts. He didn’t break his at Newcastle, and he won’t in China. He may have regretted going to China, and judging by the amount of money he gets there, it may be expensive to compensate the Chinese club to get him back. (not that that is a problem to the new owners). There is also the objections to him being allowed to ever work in the PL again after working for a club in China, a country with appalling human rights issues. (last one was tongue in cheek!).
    He definitely knows the club inside out, he left over an issue of who runs the operation ie footballing expert vs retail clown, and even if he does not share the complete vision the new owners have for the team, the club and the city beyond, he does have advantage of experience in the very job the new owners are seeking. I say yes to Rafa.


  4. I totally agree that Rafa is the right man to lead us IF we get new owners. Remember his ‘We are not a stepping stone. We are Newcastle United ‘ remarks. I would love to see him given the chance to finish the job he started.


  5. I think with a Manager like Rafa, who is ‘proven’ talent, we will be able to attract top players as they will want to play for him. When he was Manager at Newcastle he had players with limited abilities and skill, so had to play more cautiously in order to grind out results. If Rafa was to come back and have money to spend, the sky’s the limit!


  6. I was grateful to Rafa for the job he did, but I didn’t love him as you suggest.

    He was as good at PR as he he was a good manager – and you clearly bought into what he had to say. If he came back, so be it.

    But he’s not my first choice. He wouldn’t be my 2nd either, but like Prem, I’d get behind him again.


  7. Dont know understand why so many complaints about Rafa’s playing-style.. Cant you guys remember he got that Fat C@@t behind him with breaks on full.. Ashley limited Rafa, and that is why he left.

    Would love to see Rafa back at the toon 🙂


  8. We shouldn’t forget Rafa could have left when we got relegated but he stayed and got us back up. Attracting top players North will be difficult anyway, but perhaps a little easier if you have a proven manager like Rafa. Steve Bruce would not be able to attract top talent. Rafa has earned the right for another shot at Newcastle and if he is given the money, he could achieve a lot.


  9. Rafa’s playing style has always been pretty negative. It’s what he does and although the talents of our squad influenced that whilst he was here – even if we had a squad of super stars it would still be a defensive set up that we would play.

    I agree with Sharpy too in that he is a wise old owl and knows the right things to say. He knows how to work the fans and the press.

    He would be safe hands and would definitely progress us and I would not grumble if he came back. But I maintain that I’d prefer perhaps a less smooth ride in return for more entertaining football. Each to their own I guess.

    Good point above regrading him not breaking contracts too.


  10. Where do you get the idea that Rafa did a great job? Let’s go back to when we were playing in the championship. A league we should have won by end of January had Rafa been as good as you think he was. We were lucky that not only Brighton gave us that title but Huddersfield as well. We were a piss poor team and that carried on once we were back in the prem. in fact it carried on till that useless prick left for China. The only good thing he did in nearly four years for us. His tenure saw the worst football in newcastles history. Boring defending week after week month after month.i would prefer Steve to stay in charge than have that waste of space back in charge


  11. We need to get over Rafa. He had his chance and he gave us some of the most boring football we’ve ever seen at SJP.

    And the crux of the move on argument is that Bruce came in , with the same players minus our two top goalscorers and got better results.

    I can hear some of you shouting “luck!” but what was it with Rafa?


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