As a Newcastle United fan, I am obviously a devout disciple of Rafa Benitez. He has been hailed as our God and our King among other things. But what he should really be called is, the Saviour.
The club was in ruin when he joined. And that meant so was the city. Nobody walked around in their Toon shirts out of pure embarressment, and numbers at St James Park were down. Relegation beckoned, and the general consensus was that we would stay down. Be the original Sunderland if you will.
When it was rumoured that Rafa could be coming to Tyneside, the city changed almost every night. His name was on everyone’s lips, and everyone took to social media to plead with the veteran manager to join United.
I’m not ashamed to say I was one of those on Twitter getting excited, but I think we all thought it was too good to be true. Not a chance in hell that our fraud of an owner would allow us to be that happy.
But! It happened. He was announced, and in a town that is known for cheap drinks and late nights, we went crazy. His name was sang in every pub and club, and that hasn’t stopped. The excitement we all had was incredible. How had we done it, how had the club in the situation we were in brought in our new King?
Nobody expected him to keep us up that year, and he did a better job than most in trying, but the squad wasn’t good enough. We went down and he was able to build his squad and made us the highest spenders in the Championship for that year.
It worked, and he took us up at the first time of asking, not that we were particularly exciting and most agreed that we had a Championship team. That team is still largely intact for our recent Premier League exploit, and how he got us to a top-10 finish is extraordinary.
The job he has done with us so far has been nothing short of magical, both on and off the pitch. Three years ago if you told us we would be top-10 in the Premier League most would have ridiculed you.
But here we are.
Rafa was close to being named the Premier League manager of the year yet we’re sat with doubts over the Spaniards future at the club. It’s surely a no brainer to keep him at St James Park, but once again we are stuck with the stubborness of the owner.
Benitez wants assurances over the club’s ambition, and was promised every bit of money the club makes. That was a couple of weeks, ago. This week United posted losses in their financial returns. Coincidence?
Just give him money! He has shown what he can do with limited resources, but we are a club that shouldn’t settle – I believe no club should. Why can we not be challenging for European places once again? We have the fan base, and the history.
I truly believe Rafa Benitez can take us back to the top, back to European nights and away days. And everything says that he can do that. This season has been no fluke.
Imagine our club in the FA Cup final, imagine our club winning it! That alone would be worth the pain and anguish we have been through in recent times.
But the owner doesn’t think that way. He wants money. But everything you give him will be returned in winnings. We managed over £120m from our finish in the Premier League this year. That doubles what we’ve spent in transfers in recent years.
Also, let’s look at our rivals. Everton paid Sam Allardyce around £9m in wages and an end of contract deal, and they only just finished above us. Rafa isn’t asking for that, he wants transfer money. He wants cash to be able to keep our top players, and I see no reason not to give it to him.
Time will tell whether promises will be given, but they should be. For our sakes, and for the bank balance. Give him money and we will succeed.