So it’s all change at Newcastle as former-Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez signed a three-year deal with the Magpies on Friday to replace Steve McClaren in the north east team’s dugout.
The Newcastle hierarchy have made a lot of mistakes in recent years, which the appointment of Benitez will not erase, but it will certainly give the club a better chance of progressing in the future and most importantly surviving the drop this season.
Wasted time and money
Newcastle have wasted nine months of their season and a huge lorry load of money appointing the hapless Steve McClaren. He spent £80million of the clubs money in two transfer windows, just to be second from bottom in the Premier League.
The club should have shown more ambition last summer and spent a little extra money to bring in a boss who could have actually move the club forward after a close shave with relegation last season.
Instead they brought in a boss who had failed in Championship and whose managerial record was questionable to say the least. The Newcastle squad is arguably stronger now than it was before, but not by much.
Rafa the gaffer
Rafa Benitez has enjoyed a relatively successful career in management. His last job was the poisoned chalice that is Real Madrid. He was never the right man for the job and lasted just seven months.
The Spaniard was never a Galactico boss to fit in with the perceived Galactico image of Real Madrid. However, most clubs Benitez has managed have either picked-up silverware or have progressed under the Spaniard. The former-Liverpool boss has claimed 12 pieces of silverware in his career so far.
Benitez is a very solid boss, who will improve Newcastle’s position and bring some calm to a football club that seems to produce more drama than a soap opera.
At this stage of his career this could be an ideal job for Benitez. Newcastle are a club that has big potential, who have underachieved for years. If the Spaniard is allowed the control he needs at St James Park then the team will be in far better shape than they were before his arrival.
No doubt Benitez had interest from elsewhere in his services and it could be a coup for the Magpies nabbing his signature. He does not have much to lose, as the club are in a mess and very little blame will be attached to him if it goes wrong.
The 54-year-old reportedly has a relegation release clause in his contract allowing him to leave if the worse happens and the Magpies are relegated to the Championship. The Magpies are currently fourth favourites to be relegated at odds of 4/6.
One of Benitez’s first tasks as Newcastle boss will be to win around the long-suffering fans of the club. The Spaniard has enjoyed mixed fortunes with fans at former-clubs, but the majority of Newcastle fans must be happy with this appointment.
Rafa Benitez has managed some very big clubs in his managerial career and Liverpool as well (sorry Reds fans I could not resist!) He knows the Premier League very well and that he can become a hero on Tyneside, which Newcastle fans have craved for a long time.
Not dead and buried yet
Last weekend’s 3-1 defeat against fellow strugglers Bournemouth was poor even by Newcastle standards. The Magpies had a big chance to put in a performance against a team that were not yet out of the relegation fight.
Instead they surrendered meekly and the Cherries came away with three points that puts them 11 clear of the Magpies and heading to securing their place in the Premier League for next season.
Looking at the Premier League table the Magpies are just one point away from safety and all their rivals are struggling for points. That gap did not matter while Steve McClaren was in charge, as the performances were that poor that it looked unlikely that the Magpies would claim many points anyway.
However the arrival of the experienced Rafa Benitez should give everybody a lift at the club. His first game in charge is a slight baptism of fire, as the Magpies face a trip to Premier League leaders Leicester on Monday night, which let’s face it looks like one of the hardest games they could face at the moment.
The appointment of Rafa Benitez seems like the Newcastle hierarchy have finally got their heads out of their backsides and are looking for the club to move forward. I would be very surprised if Benitez does not manage to keep the Magpies up this season.
If he does then I can see the Spaniard building a team that produces a far more positive atmosphere on Tyneside next season.
Can Rafa Benitez keep Newcastle in the Premier League?