Since his appointment earlier in March, Rafa has only taken charge of two games with Newcastle but at least for the moment, the same issues remain at St. James Park. Although having said this, the Spaniard is taking over the same players as his predecessor Steve McClaren and therefore this is not unexpected; particularly after such a short amount time since his appointment. However, the real question is; does Rafa Benítez have enough time with just eight games remaining to implement any sort of major changes that could lead to Newcastle remaining in the Premier League?
Benítez definitely brings with him a wealth of experience at the very top of the game. The Spaniard has managed Chelsea, Liverpool, Inter Milan, and Valencia – some of the household names of European football. His former employers would be the envy of almost any manager in the world and at the start of 2016, Rafa was still in charge at Real Madrid. In addition to this, he has also won plenty of trophies, including arguably most famously the Champions League with Liverpool back in 2005.
Newcastle themselves do have a side that is blessed with talent and quality that does not befit their lowly status in the top flight. It is clear that many of the longer serving players are capable of playing in the Premier League; as well as some of the newer arrivals, as you would expect given that the Magpies have spent over £75 million on new signings this season. However, many of the players have not shown their true ability this season and it will be the hope of Benítez that certain individuals within his new squad can start to justify the price-tags that they arrived on Tyneside with. If members of the playing staff were not performing under Steve McClaren; who despite having managed England, was seen as out of his depth at Newcastle. Perhaps they will find it easier to find their form under the stewardship of one of the most well-regarded managers in European football.
One aspect of the new Newcastle man’s contract has raised a few alarm bells with Toon fans however. Benítez’s existing deal has a break clause which means that he is free to leave should he fail to keep his new side in the Premier League and he will not be obliged to remain with them if they were to enter the Championship. However, very few; if any, manager would take a job in foreign country if he only planned on staying there for the next two months before departing his post and heading back into the summer shrouded in uncertainty as to where his new employment is going to arrive from. With this in mind, Rafa will be looking to give everything he has to keep Toon in the Premier League and he can definitely count on the support of the Newcastle faithful who won’t want a repeat of the 2009/10 season that saw them relegated into the second flight of football on these shores.
As with any run-in for a team threatened with relegation, there are very rarely any games which look like they are easily winnable. Newcastle know that they will have to perform at their maximum and find some inspiration as they enter their final few games of the season. One thing that the international break will allow Rafa Benítez to do is get to know some members of his team better and prepare for an intense final six weeks of the season. At this point of the campaign, every game is massive. It will be the job of the Newcastle United manager to get his players ready to fight for everything on the pitch regardless of who they are playing, as every goal could prove so important as the season gets closer to its completion.
Rafa Benítez’s men will play in a massive game following the international break where they will face off against fellow relegation strugglers Norwich City. Newcastle will know that a win would do them the world of good in their bid to remain in the Premier League and with a game in hand over the Canaries, it could prove to be a massive stepping stone towards safety. However, should they fall short in this fixture and find themselves on the receiving end of a defeat, it would be an uphill battle for Rafa to keep Toon in the Premier League.
This season’s Premier League relegation battle is going to be very tight and Newcastle fans will be feeling slightly more optimistic following the appointment of Rafa, but with time running out it would be a good achievement for the Spaniard to keep Newcastle in the Premier League for at least another season.
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