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Should Rafa Benitez Be Nominated for Manager of the Year?


Apr 17, 2019 #NUFC

It has been a somewhat turbulent 2018/19 season for Newcastle United, with the frustrations of the fans and the manager clear to see. Despite this, the team has managed to string together a successful season, given the backing from the club, and has rarely looked to be in any real danger of being relegated to the Championship post-October.

The 2-1 win against reigning champions Manchester City and the 3-2 win against Everton, both at St James’ Park, have been the high points of the season and fuel the thinking that manager Rafa Benitez perhaps should be in the running for the Manager of the Year award.

The only reason why Newcastle fans had faith

After a horrid start to the season filled with five of the big six and the likes of Leicester City and Crystal Palace, Newcastle crawled into November with three points from ten games without a win. Then, Benitez galvanised the team to turn things around in November, defeating Watford, Bournemouth, and Burnley on the trot to earn the boss the award for Manager of the Month.

The first ten games of the season reflect the true quality of the weak squad that was, once again, poorly reinforced over the summer by owner Mike Ashley. But with Benitez in charge, regardless of the team on the field, Newcastle fans always have a hope of seeing their team pull away with some points.

With five games to go and those below having games in hand, Newcastle sat seven points above the last relegation place and yet were at 40/1 to get relegated. It is solely because of Benitez that Newcastle fans can not worry about relegation and instead make the most of the title race odds of City at 8/15 and Liverpool at 6/4 with the ‘Bet £5 Get £20’ opening betting offer, rather than see real value in backing their club for the drop to land a win.

For being able to keep the team up in its current condition and bring some joy and confidence to fans at a time when many would be fearful of the drop, Benitez has proven himself to be a top manager in the Premier League.

Just how difficult has it been for Rafa Benitez?

The club has been in a limbo for the last couple of years since Mike Ashley put Newcastle United up for sale in October 2017. The owner has always been rather stingy when it comes to backing the team, averaging an annual net spend of a meagre £2.6 million, but since the team has been for sale, he’s been extra resistant to buying quality players.

Money spent by this Premier League club has been bad, as has been the quality of players brought into the club. Before breaking their 13-year transfer record of £16.8 million for Michael Owen with Miguel Almiron for just £21 million in January, the biggest signing this season was 26-year-old striker Yoshinori Muto for £9.63 million, who boasts one goal in 15 games for Newcastle.

The lack of spending and poor spending when money is used are even more reasons why Rafa Benitez should be praised. He’s had one of the toughest jobs in the Premier League this season at a club that still has lofty expectations, likely finishing a fair few places above the drop zone, and did it all without decent backing from his club.

While he may not win Manager of the Year given the success of Wolverhampton Wanderers and the possible history-making season of Liverpool, Benitez should be in the running for the prestigious award.

By admin