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Rafa key to Newcastle success

Rafa key to Newcastle success

Rafa key to Newcastle success

For once, everything feels good at Newcastle. Even from the outside looking in Newcastle seems a club at peace. The decision by Mike Ashley to install Rafa Benitez as manager towards the end of last season has had a enormous effect.

Appointing a world class manager in Benitez came with Ashley having to renege on many of his practises and policies with how the club was run. Rafa is a no-nonsense manager with CV to back him up. A Champions League winner along with two Europa league titles (the first won as the UEFA cup with Valencia in 2004) are among his honours as a manager. With a wealth of experience across top clubs in Europe and experience in England with heavy weights Liverpool and Chelsea, Newcastle had no right to expect a manager of his calibre to follow the Puppeteer of the Board of directors Steve McClaren into the job. Benitez was in the bargaining seat and he knew it. For too long Newcastle had been a basket case under Ashley's leadership. A second relegation from the Premier League under his tender was imminent and he was desperate to avoid the financial blow of relegation. With one last throw of the dice Ashley threw his cheque book at Benitez and agreed to revert to a more tradition way of running the club.

It was a decision that changed everything. Rafa is a passionate man, he felt the same affection and love for the Newcastle fans that he showed in his time at Liverpool. The Toon army showed they believed in him and although Benitez was unable to keep Newcastle up the improvement was clear to see. A upturn in results despite their perilous position along with the love and heart felt support of the Geordie nation drew Rafa in. Having agreed to sign a three year contract with the aim of bringing Newcastle back up, Rafa has clearly bought into the potential of this sleeping giant. Often described as a poison chalice, the Newcastle job will be his toughest yet but the signs are very positive. 

Having rebuilt the squad with complete say on transfers and unchallenged backing from the board Newcastle will be a force. They have flexed their muscle and showed they are too big a fish to be in the championship pond of hopefuls and lost hopes. Having attracted players like Matt Ritchie and Mohamed Diame, from Premier League clubs Bournemouth and Hull respectively they have shown their ambition. More importantly the sole presence of Benitez as manager appears to be enough to attract players of clear Premier League quality. Having a manger like Benitez is a instant head turner. His reputation is among the best in the game and his ability to sell the potential of Newcastle under his leadership is clear to see. 

Newcastle are a club who have it all but have been continuously mismanaged at board level. A huge stadium with a passionate and loyal support along with a category A academy highlights the potential the club has to be successful. Terrible losses in the transfer market and controversial decisions to install various sporting directors and managers are just a fraction of the madness that Newcastle fans have endured. But now it finally feels like Newcastle have a greater unity and togetherness. In reluctantly taking a back seat and allowing a true football man in Benitez to manage the team properly, Ashley made the best decision of his time as owner. Despite two defeats to start the season Newcastle are a club destined for a instant return to the top flight. A large turnover of players will always present teething problems but Rafa has ironed out the issues quickly. He has assembled a squad of players with proven Championship and Premier League quality. With four successive League and cup victories recently the early signs are the "Rafaloution" may be about to hit full steam ahead. More players of proven quality appear to be on the way before the transfer deadline, and with the potential departure of want away midfielder Mohamed Sissoko there may yet be huge funds available for one final deadline day marquee signing. 

Ashley made a great decision when he gave Rafa the mantel to manage the club his way. Interference of any kind on the football side would not be tolerated by him. If Ashley decides to stay in the background and back his manager financially in future seasons his tenure may yet have hope of being considered a success, eventually. Should he get impatient and decided to intervene in Benitez's work he will find it was the most foolish decision of his ownership of Newcastle United.


Anthony Kavanagh