Rafa Benitez talks after weekend “One ‘Longstaff’ every year for ten years seems good business to me”

Rafa Benitez has been talking about Newcastle United’s victory over Manchester United.

The former NUFC boss praising Steve Bruce for giving Matty Longstaff his Premier League debut.

Rafa Benitez declaring: ‘I was really pleased to see Matty Longstaff scoring the winning goal for Newcastle; he was great when he was training with us and it was a good decision from Steve Bruce to make him play.’



Rafa also commented on three products of the Newcastle United Academy being on the pitch at the same time in Sunday’s win: ‘I was also happy to see a few Geordies playing together at the same time; Carroll, Sean and Matty; surely it shouldn’t be difficult to see the benefits of investing in the Academy?’

When it comes to the Academy, this was one of the main sticking points for Rafa Benitez when wanting to stay at Newcastle United and push the whole club forward.

The then NUFC manager refusing to sign an extension unless he was assured that there would be proper investment in facilities (such as the essential state of the art training ground that was promised by Mike Ashley in 2013), as well as realistic investment from the Academy up to first team level.

To reinforce that point of investing in the Academy upwards, Rafa Benitez says: ‘£4m every year for 10 years means £40 m (one player); one ‘Longstaff’ every year for ten years seems good business to me.’

The former manager pointing to the fact that proper investment in the Academy (£4m per year) and facilities could see a first team player coming through each season on average, comparing this to spending £40m on a single player from outside (Joelinton?).

It is really worth reading the whole of Rafa’s blog as he talks mainly about the challenges he faces in China and how he is approaching them.

Very embarrassing to be honest when he talks about the scale of the ambition in China at Dalian Yifang compared to Mike Ashley’s  refusal to show any ambition to grow Newcastle United, especially investment in infrastructure and having experts (in football) allowed to make the decisions.

The massive near £200m training complex will open soon and Rafa Benitez has been talking as well about the freedom he has been given to bring in the essential off the pitch expertise to grow the club from top to bottom: ‘As a part of this project, we have brought 10 Spanish coaches for working with the schoolboys, from 6 to 10 years old. We have also brought coordinators to train the Chinese coaches to ensure that everybody follows the same idea, the exercises, the way to play.’

Rafa Benitez had a real vision, like the fans, of what Newcastle United could potentially be.

Instead we are for the foreseeable still trapped in this Mike Ashley hand to mouth existence.



Rafa Benitez writing on his own personal blog:

“We don’t need to talk about systems or style of football, but it can be seen that Manchester City and Manchester United had the possession in their respective games while Wolves and Newcastle United were the ones who went away with the points.

“So, that opens a debate on how important possession is, or whether it is more beneficial to have a good game plan and counterattack to maximise what you have at your disposal.

“I was really pleased to see Matty Longstaff scoring the winning goal for Newcastle; he was great when he was training with us and it was a good decision from Steve Bruce to make him play.

“I was also happy to see a few Geordies playing together at the same time; Carroll, Sean and Matty; surely it shouldn’t be difficult to see the benefits of investing in the Academy?

“£4m every year for 10 years means £40 m (one player); one ‘Longstaff’ every year for ten years seems good business to me.

“As a part of this project, we have brought 10 Spanish coaches for working with the schoolboys, from 6 to 10 years old.

“We have also brought coordinators to train the Chinese coaches to ensure that everybody follows the same idea, the exercises, the way to play (we aren’t talking about the system, the systems can change depending on players, it is just the idea of keeping and passing the ball being sure the kids are comfortable on the ball).

“Later on, if they play on another level they will have to adapt to different systems and tactics to win games, now it is more about developing the technique and the understanding of the game. The coordinators will work in the Academy, with the U-17s who will work close to the U-19s and Reserve Team.

“The new training ground is progressing and once it is done everybody will be together in the same facility, so the communication will be easier than it is at the moment when we are a little bit further from each other.”




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Richard Keys recommends Rafa Benitez should take Everton job

There is one thing you have to admire Richard Keys for.

His persistence.

It is amazing how he can turn just about any situation into one where he can have a go at/annoy Rafa Benitez and/or Newcastle United fans.



On this occasion it is the problems Everton are having.

Despite spending serious money in recent years, including £108m (source Transfermarkt) this summer, they find themselves in the relegation zone.

A 1-0 defeat at Burnley on Saturday was their fourth Premier League defeat in a row, having lost to Man City, Sheffield United and Bournemouth.

Marco Silva surely now living on borrowed time.

Richard Keys has recommended Rafa Benitez for the job, insisting ‘Don’t believe he wouldn’t take it. He tried twice to get it when he was at Newcastle – before Sam and Silva. He’d walk back from China for it.’

The Liverpool connections have always made this look impossible from both (Rafa and Everton fans) sides. Maybe Richard Keys is right on that not being the case but I doubt it.

What I am 100% sure of is that I don’t believe Rafa Benitez tried to walk out on Newcastle twice to get the Everton job, although nobody would have blamed him if he had, due to his lack of backing from Mike Ashley.

In these last 20 or so years since he managed Valencia, Rafa hasn’t walked out on anybody when under contract.

Richard Keys also has a go at him for taking the Chelsea job. It took bottle for him to take it and it is the Chelsea fans who should be embarrassed because of their treatment of him. Rafa was without a club and came in and rescued them that season after a bad start, ending 2012/13 winning the Europa League and qualifying top four for the Champions League.

Rafa Benitez has now done a great job in China, taking Dalian Yifang away from relegation trouble and they are safe already, 16 points clear of relegation with five games to play. Indeed they are seventh and only four points off fourth.

What wouldn’t surprise me is if there is indeed a release clause built into Rafa’s contract there, to potentially suit both sides, just in case it didn’t prove the right fit. The league season ends on 1 December 2019 so not biggest surprise if there were approaches for Rafa once he has ended the season in China, whether that could mean Everton or whoever and whether Rafa would take it, remains to be seen.



Richard Keys writing on his own personal blog:

‘I’ve never thought Silva was the man to take Everton forward. They’d have been better off marking time with Sam and looking around for the right successor.

‘Everton are not the first club to waste a fortune and they won’t be the last and they’ve got to get on with it now.

‘Who next?

‘Arsene Wenger is available of course. So is David Moyes and my call left field last week was Rafa.

‘Don’t believe he wouldn’t take it. He tried twice to get it when he was at Newcastle – before Sam and Silva.

‘He’d walk back from China for it.

‘Rafa doesn’t do ‘emotion’ – as he proved when he went to Chelsea.

‘He does what he believes is right for himself. He always has. Ask Mike Ashley.

‘If Newcastle fans are wondering why I’m suggesting Rafa – let me explain.

‘Never have I said he isn’t a good coach. We all know he is.

‘What irritated me about his time at Newcastle was the constant moaning. He knew the deal. So get on with it.

‘Despite being told time and again that he’d walk into one of the world’s top jobs on leaving Newcastle I said he wouldn’t. He didn’t. He had the best job he was ever going to get in England – unless Everton are brave enough. Let’s see…’



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Looking back at these Gary Neville astoundingly inaccurate summer views on Rafa and Steve Bruce

gary neville

It is fair to say this Sunday’s Newcastle United v Manchester United game has a feeling of do or die for Steve Bruce, even this early in the season.

Fan apathy is already at toxic levels and will only be increased if we keep putting in pitiful performances, such as those in the last two weeks.

If Bruce doesn’t want to be the pressure to become unbearable, he needs to least get some sort of cohesion coaxed out of the 11 players he selects on Sunday. Even if they don’t win the game they have to at least show some application and desire. None was on show last Sunday against Leicester.



As this game is televised and against one of the so called “big six” (I hate using this term, particularly considering they won’t finish as the top six this season) I expect some lazy punditry to be a feature of Sunday. Though I could be wrong, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

In pre-season Sky Sports were hosting a debate with ‘A grade’ pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, when the topic of conversation shifted onto relegation candidates. Rightly, we were mentioned, but both Neville and Carragher pushed with the “it’s time to get behind Steve Bruce” party line, which I expect more of on Sunday, despite our terrible start to the season.

Steve Bruce has his friends in the media, many spoke of what a ‘safe’ appointment he was, perhaps overlooking the fact he has been relegated twice, and was unable to get an expensively assembled Villa team out of the Championship.

Watching it back, Neville, who is normally one of the better pundits on Sky, goes even further with some astoundingly inaccurate views regarding the appointment of Bruce and our discontent over the departure of Rafa Benitez.

“I thought he (Rafa Benitez) was having you over me. I thought he was having you over.

“I thought the minute it got tough or he got an offer from another club he would have gone.

“I think he played the game and I thought until Klopp started doing well at Liverpool, he was flirting with them all the time.

“I didn’t think he was being true to the traditions of the club, of the city.”

A few points to unpick straight away.

In regards to Rafa waiting for an offer “when things got tough”, Neville probably needs to be reminded that things were extremely tough for the vast majority of Benitez’s time in charge of NUFC. Particularly in our first season back in the top flight, when he had a thin squad for much of the season, and we had awful patches of form.

He stuck with us, in spite of little/no support from the boardroom.



As for traditions, that basically refers to the Kevin Keegan era. Of course the early 90s, King Kev’s first spell, are a huge part of our club’s history, but I don’t believe that suddenly means we have some engraved philosophy of attacking, exciting football. We had that for just under five years, out of what is now a 127 year history of Newcastle United.

The fact that Rafa Benitez didn’t play attacking football made no difference to me, or the vast majority of fans who love the man. It was about him restoring some pride and organisation on the pitch, certainly compared with the years that preceded his reign. Unfortunately, it looks like we might now be back to the sort of shambles we were in before Rafa arrived on Barrack Road.

Gary Neville then goes onto say;

“Every time I went up to Newcastle over a two year period, I was bored.

“The place should be mad. It should exciting.”

This sort of cavalier attitude shows real arrogance.

What it translates as is we should be exciting for neutrals even if it means we eventually go down. Typical Newcastle. It gives the media a good story if we struggle and have huge problems as supporters, with those running/within the club.

Sometimes the outside impression of Newcastle fans is completely untrue, highlighted by Neville’s comments here. No, we do not want to see a 4-3 defeat rather than a dour 0-0. No, we do not have a burning desire to be in relegation battles, as long we have exciting players.

Benitez got the maximum and a little more out of the tools at his disposal, the results and lack of investment in the side over the three years he was in charge, point to a manager who had earned and deserved our support.

We should not be expected to get behind Bruce at any costs. If results and performances are unacceptable he will feel the wrath of supporters quickly, like Carver and McClaren did, and rightly so.

Whatever happens Sunday, something tells me he will have support from the pundits in the studio at full time.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JackLaceySport




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Rafa’s final 28 and 16 game form tables prove Steve Bruce inherited Newcastle United team on the up

The media have been desperate to build up a picture of Steve Bruce taking over a near impossible job.

With every poor result and ever worse performance, they are keen to point to the start of last season.

Journalists saying just look at how few points Rafa Benitez got early on last season.



As though this in some way excuses/justifies the mess we are seeing under Steve Bruce.

The truth is though, that in reality Bruce did not take over a struggling failing team.

Instead he took over one that was very much on the up.

Yes Rondon and Perez have/had left BUT Steve Bruce claimed he’d had brilliant backing from Mike Ashley in the transfer window, stating he couldn’t have asked for better from the new owner. Even laughably claiming that he (Bruce) had made the decision to sign these new players, especially the big money on Joelinton.

However, just have a look at these two form tables (tables via Transfermarkt).

One covers results since the start of November 2018 (Rafa’s last 28 matches) and the second one is from mid-January 2019 (Rafa’s last 16 games):

From matchday 11 (1-0 win over Watford) up to and including matchday 38 (4-0 win over Fulham):

premier league form table 2018/19 from match week 11

As you can see, that 28 match form guide takes in 75% of the season after the chaos and lack of support from the owner in the summer 2018 transfer window, led to a very difficult opening to the season.

Only West Ham, outside of the top six, had better form over the last seven months of the season and as you can see, Newcastle were only seven points off Champions League form (Man Utd 49 points, Newcastle 42).

Even better – from matchday 23 (3-0 win over Cardiff) up to matchday 38 (4-0 win over Fulham):

premier league form table 2018/19 from match week 23

Startling stuff.



This latter Premier League form table covering the last four months of Rafa’s reign, shows Newcastle only one point outside the top four Champions League placings.

It also puts a lie to the lazy claims that Rafa Benitez will always play negative boring football.

When he has the tools he will/can play a different way.

It was so encouraging that in those last 16 games, only four clubs scored more goals than the 26 Newcastle United scored.

The NUFC manager couldn’t have been messed about more by Mike Ashley last summer.

The owner’s insistence on making a profit in that transfer window and delaying signings such as Rondon until the very end of the window, meant a chaotic summer preparation.

Imagine what would have been possible if Rafa had been given decent money to spend in summer 2019 AND the freedom to go for whoever he wanted, when he wanted to?

Instead we have this absolute shambles under Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce, the head coach the only person at the club who speaks and when he does, the excuses just get more embarrassing.

Newcastle United were NOT a failing team with very little goal threat last season, instead they were a fast improving side with a manager who just needed some realistic backing.

It seems like a distant memory now, as we have yet another clown added as head coach, to go with Ashley, Barnes, Charnley and the rest.



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Newcastle fans need to get angry and passionate for change after Leicester 5 Newcastle 0 – Final proof

Rafa Benitez never once conceded five goals while in charge of Newcastle. Steve Bruce has done it after a few weeks in charge.

Since the season started, quite a number of Newcastle fans have been using the argument that the team had a bad start last season as evidence that Bruce has been doing okay in his brief time in charge of Newcastle United. Some even argued he was doing better than Rafa.

I never bought that argument.



For me, performances under Rafa were better than results in a way that has never yet been true under Bruce. But even if I had been subscribing to that view, the bubble surely burst today.

A brief comparison of Rafa’s performance in the equivalent fixtures to those we’ve played this season starts to illustrate the marginal gains that he gave us. So far, we’ve played:

Leicester (A)

Brighton (H)

Liverpool (A)

Watford (H)

Tottenham (A)

Norwich (A)

Arsenal (H)

From those fixtures, Bruce has managed five points and a goal difference of -9.

In the same fixtures under Rafa – [swapping Norwich (A) for Cardiff (A), since Norwich finished 1st in the Championship, and Cardiff finished 18th in the Premier League] – we did a little bit better, achieve 7 points and a goal difference of -5.

Some fans will shriek at the last paragraph, arguing that two more points and four more goals seems petty, insignificant, not worth kicking up a fuss about. But that argument is missing the point because it ignores the fine margins that can be the difference between staying up and going down.

And here’s an even more damning statistic. Under Bruce so far, we’ve conceded 2.6 goals a game; under Rafa last season, it was 1.2. And that drastic, damning shift hasn’t been compensated for by goals scored either.

So what is my overarching point?

That the football is worse? No.

That we’re less solid defensively? No.

That we’re scoring fewer goals? No.

That we’ll definitely be relegated this season? No.

Though all of those things, I believe, sadly, are true.

My point is simply that the deterioration on the pitch from this season compared to last is obvious, catastrophic and painful, and that it is made more so by the fact that it was all so avoidable.

I could cry – and have cried – when I think about how close we were to progress, and how avoidably that has been totally wasted.

To be clear, I don’t think Steve Bruce is in any way responsible. In his position, I’d have taken the job too. I just think he’s less good than the man we had in charge before and that his lack of quality is starting to show. I really can’t understand those fans who can’t see that difference and who aren’t outraged by the fact that it’s been allowed to happen.



Why isn’t more blood boiling over the decision making that led us to this place?

I’ve kept my powder dry after giving up my season ticket of 27 years this summer. It hurt to do so, but I’d signed the #IfRafaGoesWeGo petition last season and I like to stay true to my word.

(As I side note – I sincerely hope that every single person who signed that petition has since given up their season ticket too. Otherwise, what was the point, exactly?)

I haven’t posted on Facebook or written an article in The Mag about that decision until now. To my mind, if people wanted to turn up and support the team, I could understand their point of view. And I knew it was futile to try and change it over Facebook! After all, cancelling my season ticket was hard, painful; why should I expect others to feel differently or to have followed suit?

But today was a watershed moment for me. A moment where concrete evidence that Bruce is doing measurably less well than Rafa emerged.

And it makes me feel vindicated even while it makes me feel immeasurably sad.

God almighty, how close we were to progress. God almighty, how close we are to disaster.

God almighty, how I wish all Newcastle fans would see that fact and rally noisily, aggressively, passionately behind the calls for change.



Stats from BBC Sport:

Leicester 5 Newcastle 0  – Sunday 29  September 4.30pm

Goals:

Leicester:

Pereira 16, Vardy 54 and 64, Dummett OG 57, Ndidi 90

Possession was Leicester 69% Newcastle 31%

Total shots were Leicester 13 Newcastle 3

Shots on target were Leicester 5 Newcastle 0

Corners were Leicester 9 Newcastle 0

Referee: Craig Pawson

Newcastle team v Leicester:

Dubravka, Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Atsu, Hayden (Sent off 43), Longstaff, Almiron (Yedlin 74), Muto (Ki 46), Joelinton (Carroll 63)

Unused Subs

Darlow, Saint-Maximin, Manquillo, Fernandez

Crowd: 32,168 (2,650 NUFC – Newcastle United refused to take the full 3,305 away allocation)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the five goal humiliation – Read HERE)

(Steve Bruce has to go after this shambles – Read HERE)



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Rafa Benitez asked best Newcastle signing and game he wished he’d won as well as low NUFC crowds

rafa benitez

Rafa Benitez has signed up to be a regular contributor to The Athletic and Thursday has seen him make his latest contribution.

The site inviting subscribers to put in questions for the top class manager.

Needless to say, many of them were regarding Newcastle United.



Which game he’d like to relive?

Best signings?

Four clubs that can challenge the top six?

Falling crowds under Steve Bruce…?

Rafa Benitez answering questions from subscribers to The Athletic:

‘What’s the one thing that you think that fans or even players misunderstand about a manager’s position?’

Rafa Benitez:

‘Sometimes they don’t understand that you have to make decisions, not thinking about one game. You are analysing the big picture. They don’t have all the information from inside so you have to make decisions, even if you know that it is not ideal, but still you have to do it for the future of your team or your club.’

‘What are your thoughts on Newcastle Utd having their lowest crowds since 2010 since they didn’t keep you? It’s absolutely unheard of for Newcastle crowds to dip to 35,000-37.000.

Just shows how loved you were at Newcastle that a huge number of fans are staying away at protest at the club for not keeping you. My last game was the Fulham away match (Your last game) and I won’t be going back for many years in protest of them not keeping you.

Rafa Benitez:

‘I have continued following Newcastle United and I am sure that there will be a point when they will do well and the fans will support the team. But I also understand the situation and the disappointment now. But I have the desire to see them do well. I wish them all the best, like I did in the past.’

‘Is there one game in your career that you’d like to relive, for the wrong reasons? A defeat that you feel would change the course of your career?’

Rafa Benitez:

‘When I first came to Newcastle, the Sunderland game that was a draw and we lost Mitrovic in the last few minutes, that game could have been crucial. Sunderland and Norwich were close to us so it could have changed everything if we had won.’



‘Who would you say was your best value signing at Newcastle Schar, Lejeune, Dubravka?’

Rafa Benitez:

‘I agree the three of them are quite good signings for the money we paid. Also I would add Rondon was good value as a loan.’

‘I was just wondering what was attractive to you about moving to China to manage over there? You’ve achieved everything already in you career already so was it just the case of wanting to start something new given how things ended for you at Newcastle or would you have the hunger and desire to take on another top job?’

Rafa Benitez:

‘I went to China because the timing was right and I found that the situation was a challenge for me. At the same time, I’m keeping an eye on the Premier League and European leagues to be sure that I know what is going on and you never know what can happen in the future. I want to improve my team for the next season and I want to compete in any league I am in. If I have to come back in the future, I want to be sure that I can challenge for something again.’

‘Is there any hope for Tottenham ? Can they finish top 4 in the EPL?’

Rafa Benitez:

‘I think so. It will maybe more interesting this year, but still I can see that they have the potential to do well. We talk about ‘six teams’, but for me Leicester, West Ham, Wolves and Everton can progress and challenge. Again, I will say Tottenham have all the experience and quality to do well and to stay in the top four.’




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When the penny drops that just maybe the key person at Newcastle United is the manager

An interesting few days for the media who cover Newcastle United.

Obviously there must have been a bit of a glitch, a time delay in them catching on to what NUFC fans were saying months ago.

The Brighton game being a bit of a trigger, a new low that meant the journalists had to face reality.



Even the club’s pet local paper is joining in, so things must be bad!

The Chronicle very belatedly now asking some of the questions/issues that the rest of have had at the forefront of our minds since long before the season kicked off.

You know the worm is turning when even Steve Bruce’s best mate, Luke Edwards at The Telegraph, is now expressing concern as to Newcastle’s season, although he is still steering well clear from criticising the head coach.

All journalists like to back the winner and I think after that worst shambles so far on Saturday, they didn’t need to get their crystal balls out to imagine what is likely to happen next.

So second best against an average Brighton at home, so easy did they pass through our lines, it was like 1970 Brazil v Brucie’s bins.

To now have a run of games against Leicester, Man Utd, Chelsea, Wolves and West Ham, the journos are getting their fingers out and counting up the likely points, no doubt wondering if they will need to go past their first hand for the 11 game points total.

Up to this point, if you openly criticised Steve Bruce and the rest of Mike Ashley’s circus that has brought us to this shambles, you would likely be attacked with two things. Namely, Rafa Benitez only got three points in his first 10 games last season and what are you talking about, we beat Champions League runners up Tottenham.

Spurs are on a run of two wins in their last nine Premier League games, five in their last 18. Newcastle have given Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Tottenham good games and/or beat them in the two Rafa PL seasons, they aren’t all that good. Liverpool and Man City are on a whole different level but that is it.

The win at Tottenham is held up as some great tactical triumph but it has been like pretty much every other game this season, defending almost non-stop but on that occasion we got the goal and Spurs were feeble in their attacking ideas (and despite a strong side out they have lost to Colchester on Tuesday night in the League Cup).



As for that reference to Rafa’s first 10 games last season, you have to be really desperate to be taking any comfort from that when confronted by the current mess.

Rafa was having to rely on the likes of Joselu and Muto whilst Rondon got fully fit. Once he did get fit we never really looked back in terms of feeling confident of eventual safety.

Contrast that with our £40m superstar having started every game and if you’re honest, Newcastle could easily be sitting here with no points, as Watford and Brighton were certainly better on the days when they faced Newcastle.

I feel sorry for Joelinton. I haven’t got a clue who insisted that he was a £40m striker (Rafa told Ashley that Joelinton was worth £20m at the very most) and neither indeed do the journalists, although at least they are starting to ask the question.

Instead of following the club propaganda, they are now wondering exactly who at the club made that valuation and decided he was such a must-have this summer. Bottom line is that Newcastle needed two reliable goalscorers to replace Rondon and Perez, plus two high quality wing-backs, instead Ashley and whoever’s great plan was to spend the vast majority of the money available on somebody whose best season was scoring eight goals in the Austrian league, a striker who is never fit to start and two budget wing-backs on the cheap who are nowhere near good enough.

I understand that unlike us fans, newspapers/journalists have to at times give new people the benefit of the doubt but when they were all saying, with varying levels of enthusiasm, that Steve Bruce’s CV justified getting the job, it was laughable.

It was the same when back in the day Graeme Souness arrived, or Pardew, or Carver, or JFK, or McClaren, none of them should have even been considered.

The amusing thing for me is that fans aren’t saying Steve Bruce should be sacked. Instead the feeling is that it is all a bit pointless because Mike Ashley would employ somebody just as bad, or even worse.

The journalists have finally realised as well that fans have had enough and a serious number are going to stay away from the matches until something radically changes, which appears to all focus on Mike Ashley selling up.



Yes you will get more Newcastle fans going to say the Man Utd game and the crowd bolstered by neutrals and Man Utd fans in the home areas BUT the spell is broken and doubtful any match will sell out this season, as things stand.

This club has stepped off a cliff this summer and only now are certain parts of the media realising that we are all but certainly on a headlong rush to the rocks below.

So many journalists willing to go along with the club PR that was trying to tell us that Rafa Benitez was no big deal, that indeed even Steve Bruce could be better, with more entertaining football and better results.

Gullible fools the lot of them, too willing to ingratiate themselves with Mike Ashley and his minions such as Lee Charnley.

The fans called it as they saw it this summer and saw it for the disaster that it was.

For Ashley to want to get rid of Rafa Benitez and replace him with Steve Bruce should have been ridiculed across the board.

The thing is, whilst we might not have seen our team win anything, down the years we have seen some great managers right through to useless ones, the same with players. We know quality when we see it and we also recognise the ones who will never be good enough.

Sometimes things just don’t work out for whatever reason with the odd manager/player but when it comes to the likes of Rafa Benitez and Steve Bruce, we instantly knew where their natural place was.

Nothing  in these past 10 weeks suggests otherwise.



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