It has now been a year since Rafa Benitez arrived on Tyneside. Since his arrival, there has been much change at St. James’. A club divided has been brought together by the Spaniard. Furthermore, his tactical changes have revolutionised United and now finally now, a year later, United are making progress.
What was wrong?
When Benitez arrived on Tyneside, United were a mess. A club neglected and misrun by its owner Mike Ashley. That had reached breaking point by March 2016. A supporter, long neglected, felt like an outsider looking in at the club that they loved so dearly. A manager clueless tactically and about the club he had inherited. A squad with no life, passion or leader. The situation was dire. United found themselves in the relegation zone.
A year later and Benitez was unable to maintain United’s Premier League. It was the impossible job. A side devoid of any real fight was always going to struggle. Players such as Moussa Sissoko simply didn’t want to be there and lacked the mentality needed to be successful in the Premier League. The club was never going to succeed. Years of penny pinching had only just finished and the lack of Premier League experience only further added to this. It was a bridge too far for Benitez, however, the club went down united when only weeks earlier it had been so divided.
What he’s done
Getting Rafa Benitez to stay in June was huge for the club. Benitez had reunited the fans and club but it was a fragile bond. Only Benitez was able to unify the factions. The spirit and life he has brought to United is special and this was particularly evident in the 5-1 demolition of Tottenham at the end of last season. Getting the fans back onside was essential for success.
Next on the agenda for Rafa was to sought on the team, something that he has managed to do where others failed. Benitez stockpiled his side with Championship experience the likes of Ritchie and Gayle have been essential this season. Some fans doubted moves for players such as Murphy and Clark, however, they have proven their worth. Benitez stripped the side of those who didn’t care and replaced them. His management and tactics throughout the season have led Newcastle to the top of the Championship. Benitez has took United from some of the darkest days in the clubs history back towards the top. As Newcastle fans, we must be grateful
Feature image credit: Martin Le Roy