Thursday, March 22, 2018

Newcastle appointed Rafa Benitez too late

Rafa Benitez was brought in as Newcastle boss in March, but the Spaniard's arrival came too late to save the Magpies from relegation

Rafa Benitez was brought in as Newcastle boss in March, but the Spaniard’s arrival came too late to save the Magpies from relegation

Newcastle will be playing Championship football next season after Sunderland’s 3-0 home win over Everton on Wednesday night secured the Black Cats safety for another season. Norwich were also relegated alongside the Magpies and Aston Villa.

Newcastle performances have taken a turn for the better in recent weeks under high-profile boss Rafa Benitez.

The Magpies are now unbeaten in five Premier League games, but there upturn in fortunes were too little too late for the north east side to survive the drop this season.

A terrible summer appointment

Last summer Newcastle appointed former-Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren. The majority of Newcastle fans seemed against McClaren’s appointment, but Newcastle’s hierarchy seem to be regulars in the poor decision club.

McClaren had a long list of failures behind him at the likes of Nottingham Forest and Derby County in the Championship, clubs he could not even inspire in the second tier. The less said about his ill-fated tenure as England boss the better.

What exactly made the Magpies board believe that McClaren would be a good appointment for the club and give him money to spend for good measure?

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is undoubtedly a good businessman, but the appointment of McClaren was definitely not good business. However, the much-maligned owner cannot be blamed for his disastrous appointment.

The majority of the blame should be laid at the door of chief executive Lee Charnley who was tasked with the job of hiring a new boss last summer. Ashley finally coughed-up transfer funds and those funds were spent arguably on the wrong areas of the team.

Charnley has since apologised for relegation, knowing full well that his decision to appoint McLaren was one of the major reasons for the clubs relegation.

Signs of life under Benitez

Newcastle finally showed some ambition with the appointment of Rafa Benitez in March. Had the Newcastle hierarchy showed such ambition last summer and not short-changed the fans with McClaren’s appointment, then the side from the north east may have survived the drop this season.

Benitez signed a three-year contract when he joined the Magpies, but he may well be reconsidering his future with the north east side after they were relegated from the top-flight. The Spaniard managing a club in the English second tier seems unlikely.

Whether Benitez has a relegation release clause in his contract is unclear. He will no doubt have other offers in higher leagues in the summer, so managing the Magpies in the Championship is not likely to be his best option.

Bouncing straight back could be difficult

When a team are relegated it is customary for a mass exodus of players, simply for finances reasons as the financial rewards are not the same in the Championship as they are in the Premier League. The clubs big earners are likely to leave the Magpies this summer.

The Magpies does have a number of players that will be chased this summer. The likes of Moussa Sissoko and Ayoze Perez have already been linked with moves away from the north east.

Last time the Magpies were relegated to the second tier a number of players stayed with the club and the north east club earned an instant return to the Premier League. The Championship will be a highly competitive league next season, as always.

It could be a major challenge for the Magpies to win promotion straight back to the top-flight. A lot will depend on whether Rafa Benitez stays at the club, or who replaces the Spaniard if he does leave.

Last time the Magpies were relegated they turned to the ever dependent Chris Hughton to guide them to promotion and he delivered. However with the club sitting in midtable in the top-flight the unassuming Hughton was replaced.

Alan Pardew did a decent job, but was not a popular figure among the Toon Army who saw him as part of the ‘Cockney Mafia’ alongside Ashley. Under Pardew the Magpies were pretty stable in the top-flight table.

However for the last 18 months relegation has been a spectre hanging over the head of Newcastle. Relegation for the north east this season will not have come as much of a surprise to anybody associated with the club.

The Newcastle fans deserve better, but unfortunately for the Toon Army this is just the latest in a long catalogue of disappointments under the current regime.

Can Newcastle bounce straight back up next season?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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