It was in the 2015/16 season that Rafa Benitez took over at a relegation-threatened Newcastle United. Despite finishing the season with six unbeaten games, the damage was already done. Add Sunderland’s heroics and it was all going down at Tyneside. The Magpies were relegated.
Rafa signed a three-year deal and intended on seeing it through. His Newcastle side won the Championship and gained promotion to the Premier League at the first time of asking. At the start of the 2017/18 season, Newcastle were favourites to get relegated. The initial half of the season proved the same but after the turn of the year, the Magpies stepped up and reached new heights.
They became the first newly promoted team to finish in the top-half of the Premier League. United also claimed wins over the big six sides including Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, including a formidable performance against a record-breaking Manchester City side.
Not to forget, this was an over-achievement by an underwhelming squad. No one expected that squad to stay up in the first division, let alone finish in the top-10. The money invested in signings just wasn’t enough and the players bought weren’t of top quality either. It was the loan deals of Martin Dubravka and Kenedy that actually helped Newcastle and even those came only in January.
The over-achievement was all down to one man – Rafael Benitez. The work he has done at St. James’ Park is incredible. He has instilled confidence in the squad and has got the utmost out of them. The Spaniard is an experienced coach, who has won it all and can easily do better.
The hierarchy at Everton and West Ham were rumoured to be moving in for him and Zenit St. Petersburg are still interested. Rafa has just one more year left on his contract and owner Mike Ashley and chairman Lee Charnley must give Benitez whatever he wants.
The club’s league finish would have generated a monumental pool of money and television deals and still, the board revealed that the club faced a £90.9m loss, which cannot be true.
All the manager needs is a substantial transfer budget, control over the acquisitions, investment in the academy and in the training ground. The squad needs obvious improvements in all areas of the pitch. They need to buy a central defender, an attacking midfielder and are in dire need of a goalscorer.
Newcastle’s top scorer was Ayoze Perez, who managed to score just 10 goals in all competitions this season. The academy will also help the club to produce players for the first-team or to be sold on for profits. These requirements aren’t alien, this is how football clubs work.
Mike Ashley clearly wants all powers to rest with him despite not even visiting the club’s stadium for about a year. He didn’t even agree to sell the club while also not backing the manager. The manager isn’t asking to fill his pockets, he is asking what’s best for the club. Rafa’s passion for Newcastle isn’t hidden.
Benitez earlier said: “I’m fighting for the best for my club. So I am not fighting for what’s best for Rafa Benitez.”
To summarize, Benitez’ demands aren’t too much. He is the best coach for Newcastle at this moment, is leading the club forward and is the first manager in about a decade to do so. They will be challenging for European spots next season if Benitez remains at the helm and is backed by the board.