In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Rafa Benitez has praised the “amazing” Newcastle fans and spoke about his wish to see us stay up this season.
The Spaniard spoke in-depth about a host of issues, which included his ambitions to return to management in the Premier League – although that remains unlikely to be on Tyneside while Mine Ashley remains at the helm.
Benitez is currently out of work having left his post at Dalian Pro in January. That said, he is a name that will be targeted by a host of clubs across the continent, with the Champions League winner boasting one of the best CVs in the business.
He also fired a dig at the pessimistic pundits who often criticise Toon supporters for expecting too much, citing the Toon Army as a “city behind the team” who “deserves” some kind of success.
Here is what he said about NUFC in his interview with the Daily Mail:
“It was an amazing time for me and an amazing experience and I suffered with the fans because they deserved more.
“Some people, some pundits say: ‘Oh, they [Newcastle fans] ask for too much.’ No, they are a city behind the team, so they deserve something.
“I wish them all the best and I want them to stay up. I said so many times, they have to be united, even at this difficult time, it is the only way to stay up.”
In the interview, Benitez clearly expresses his passion for the sport by saying that he watches every game he possibly can, writing notes and sending tactical write-ups to his team after every match he watches.
Benitez is a perfectionist who has an obsession for the finer details of football, a far cry from Steve “I don’t really do tactics” Bruce.
Do you think our current coaching staff, possibly Graeme Jones aside, even bother to thoroughly analyse other sides in the league when we play them? I think we all know the answer.
Our fanbase acknowledge that we were lucky to have Rafa in the dugout at St James’ Park. We are educated to know that we were punching well above our weight to bring him to the club in the first place, unlike what some pundits would have you believe.
If you haven’t already, then I highly recommend that you read the interview to remind yourselves of how much passion and class the man oozes; if only to escape the harsh reality of where we currently are and to think of what might have been.
One of Ashley’s biggest NUFC mistakes – and boy there’s been a few – was his refusal to back the man who had the best chance of delivering success to the club, while giving money to inept chancers like McClaren and Bruce.
Had Benitez been backed and ended up delivering the goods, the hate towards Ashley himself may not be as hostile as it currently is today. It was his chance to have a go, but instead he let go of by far the best manager we’ve had since Sir Bobby.