After 276 days in the hot seat and with the likes of Alan Shearer going off on one every week on Match of the Day, not to mention any other media outlets’ poor reporting, Steve McClaren has been sacked by Newcastle United as they sought and secured the services of Rafa Benitez showing professional football at its best.
Rafa Benitez seems like a good idea. He has success at running a club or two, but at this late stage of the season, is this pure madness to take on such a role, or is it a genius move by him? Those who think it will be madness will no doubt be thinking of a time a certain Mr Shearer tried out the role for himself with a similar amount of games left in the season. The very fact that we have not seen him take on such a public role as this since does suggest he thinks it is a case of once bitten, twice no thank you.
With less than ten games left, certain things need to start happening. Number one in this hit parade of disasters has to be that the players in the squad actually start doing what they are paid to do, namely play with a professional attitude and a love for the badge that they serve for that is the way round it should fall. They serve the club and the fans, not the other way round! The club pays their wages, as massive as they are and they fail to deliver on the pitch, especially in defence and the fans vent their frustration, quite rightly so, because their hard earned are being spent in the pursuit of this great club winning games and trophies and they see very little return.
Before Benitez was signed I was wondering whether there was a manager or coach out there who will take them on with the massive risk of them being relegated, something that only the few would want to see, from the Premier League. I doubted that one of the top managers/coaches out there would do it unless there was something tantalising about the offer. With players not playing for their team, or their boss, what would a new man gain but having to slam down his attitudes to them and start a war of attrition against them? So it seems like a poisoned chalice and one to be avoided, unless it is a manager or coach who wants to make a name for themselves, someone less experienced and more adventurous. Or so the thought process went.
But this is where it might be a genius move. Benitez has shown how good he is and must be costing an immense amount of cash, but to take on such a role as this and have a go at turning round the club, to save them from relegation, would gain him even more kudos when it comes to asking for more from the board or from his next club. Again, this is where Rafa seems to have the upper hand in the deliberations that have taken place because there is a clause in his contract, according to the BBC reports, that says he can leave his three year contract should the Magpies be relegated.
If Mr Benitez does not know yet, he has a job and a half on his hands. Saving Newcastle from relegation is one thing. Getting a group of players to be proud of their badge is another. But, getting and instilling that sense of belief and pride across player and fan base is another thing entirely in such a short space of time. I for one salute him in his new venture and hope he is successful where others have not been.