Rafa Benitez is in the (Sky Sports) news again.
Our ex-manager has been out of work since leaving Chinese outfit Dalian Pro by mutual consent in January.
Some weeks ago, the former Liverpool manager had spoken about his desire to return to management in England and that interview has become the subject of discussion again with the managerial vacancies which have opened up in London with Tottenham and, potentially, Arsenal.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Rafa had stated that he would want to be at a club with an exciting project, either to challenge for trophies or to develop for the future. He also stated that he’s been watching the Championship games as well, an indication that he is open to jobs outside the top six.
Here is what he had to say concerning the country he would manage in:
“I moved to China because there were no top sides here, so I needed to keep competing and doing my job.
“But at the moment I’m quite keen to stay in England, in Liverpool. I’m watching every Premier League game and sometimes Championship games so that I’m always ready.
“The priority is England, the Premier League, my family is here and I like the style of football here. I will try to be ready here.
“I am watching the Serie A because it is a good league for me but there, in France, in Germany, in Portugal, I don’t see too many options in these countries to have a project where you can develop players and make the team more competitive.”
Rafa Benitez also spoke about the advantage he has with Newcastle, with regard to returning for a second stint at the club:
“The advantage I have at Newcastle that I couldn’t have at (sic) another teams is that I know the players, I know some of the characters and that is really important in the way that you can approach them.
“When I left, I said it was a pity because I was really happy over there and you never know what can happen in the future. Obviously I’m following every game, I am in contact with some players, I try to analyse (the situation there) to see ‘okay I can do this or I can do that’, because it’s important for every manager to see how (sic) can you improve things, to keep thinking and try to see if you are ready for the next challenge.”
It would be interesting to know how much contact he’s had with the likes of Ritchie, Lascelles and Dummett during the rough patches we have endured this season. They are most likely to be among those players who had been in touch with, seeing as he placed so much trust in during his time. It all makes sense now how it has been possible that these players, two years later, have continued to show some semblance of the style of play that Rafa Benitez introduced. It also may explain why Bruce kept whining about the mighty Rafa, if the players had occasionally given him a tip or two from the Rafa handbook much to Steve’s consternation.
I hope Mike Ashley sees the damage this latest managerial experiment has caused his investment and decides to part ways with Bruce by the end of the season. I believe Rafa could return even with Ashley at the helm of affairs, provided the disappointments of the past are prevented with clear terms on a new contract.
A big factor for Rafa Benitez staying in any job has always been the connection with the fans. He openly stated that it was the Newcastle fans who influenced his decision to remain after the relegation in 2015/16, especially during the final home game against Tottenham, where the fans filled up the stadium and cheered as though we were winning an FA cup semi final.
I hope his relationship with the fans and players will be enough to have him back at Newcastle next year, despite the Arsenal and Tottenham projects will offer him better ownership, funds and players, as well as being exciting projects with higher possibility of success in terms of trophies.