Friday, August 19, 2022

Newcastle United’s Championship Form: A Look At The Brilliant Planning By Rafa Benitez

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Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan used to be the Featured Columnist at The 4th Official. Completely immersed in football and almost all other sports on planet.

There are tow kinds of managers- one, who guides his players and the other, who works. Now, the problem with the second kind is that they might not always be the best option for the big clubs, having superstars and influential board directors, whose ability to take instructions are clouded by ego and self-assuming superior know-how.

A manager, who is a worker, on the other would suit in a club, where players and the authorities are willing to trust him. It is the exact thing that happened with Rafael Benitez. He realized that he could use his potential to the fullest in Newcastle United. Although he couldn’t save them the Premier League relegation last season, he decided to stay and manage them in the Championship.

And Newcastle this season have been a totally different side. They have won 7 matches in a row. The Magpies are equally strong both home and away. The stadium is once again seeing a fully-filled crowd, the kind of attendance a rich heritage club like Newcastle United deserves. There is every chance for the Magpies to win the Championship this season.

It was not an overnight change and the players did not just get inspired by Benitez’s pep talks. It was methodical and at a fundamental level. The patient short passes allowing opponents to press, playing the one-two on flanks and a sudden impeccable long pass to the penalty box and the finishing with conviction- all this was high;y missed in Newcastle for the past few seasons.

Newcastle currently sits at the top of the Championship table and one will not be surprised if they manage to upset the big teams in the English League Cup or in the FA Cup. They have won 11 games from the opening 15 games losing 3 games. They even started the season with two back to back losses, but a change this big takes time.

A lot was about to change when Benitez took his office in the Championship. A massive overhaul was about to happen into the squad and Newcastle United should be rightly applauded  for their ability to identify the man who could bring about this change and stick by his decisions.

He knew exactly whom to keep and who to release. He held talks with Gabby Obertan and Sylvain Marveaux to inform them their contracts were being paid up. They left soon after. Many others, like Fabricio Coloccini, Papiss Cisse, Moussa Sissoko and Manu Riviere moved on too.

Newcastle brought in 12 players ready, who were ready for the first team football- one goalkeeper, five defenders, four midfielders and two centre-forwards. He handpicked them recognizing their ability to pull off his philosophy spending a total of 60 million pounds this summer. One such example is Dwight Gayle, who moved this summer from Crystal Palace to Newcastle United. He is in red hot form scoring 11 goals in 12 appearances till now.

Benitez could be seen building a great team already. We won’t be surprised at all if Rafa Benitez pulls off a Claudio Ranieri next season in the Premier League.

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