Although starting against the League leaders riding a wave is tough, Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City are themselves a testament of what can be achieved against the odds, both at the bottom and the top of the Premier League. Benitez probably won’t need any reminders after what he achieved with Valencia in La Liga, and Liverpool in the Champions League. Though many have commented that Benitez’s record with subsequent clubs hasn’t been quite as good, he still managed to win five big trophies with Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli, including a Europa League and World Club Cup. As for Real Madrid, he never got a chance. Hence, one could hardly describe Rafa’s post Liverpool period as wilderness years anyway.
Before I proceed further though, I should declare that I used to visit the very pleasant city of Valencia in the early 2000s. During my visits, I enjoyed Benitez’s Valencia team as they broke the Spanish duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona, and have been an admirer of Benitez ever since. Even without any personal bias on my part though, there is no doubt that in terms of ambition and previous success, Benitez is several leagues above all of Mike Ashley’s other appointments, and indeed, all previous Newcastle United appointments since the late, great Bobby Robson. To illustrate the point, Benitez has won the same amount of major trophies as Newcastle United have in the whole their 125 year history (12). He is also the only manager who has won the whole set of European and World Club trophies. Even as a Newcastle United fan, I must reluctantly admit that this trumps the Toon’s solitary Inter Cities Fairs Cup in European competition!
Getting back to this evening’s game though, tips and predictions for the game are availble at My Betting Bonus. Whilst it’s fair to say that all games, including this evening’s are crucial with the Toon in the mess they’re in again with only ten to go, I also think that it will be next one against Sunderland at St James’ Park that could really set the course for either disaster or salvation in Newcastle United’s season. One optimistic note is that a large (some have even said suspicious) amount of top players (Coloccini, Tiote, Townsend and Cisse) will be back from niggling injuries just in time Rafa the Gaffer’s eagerly awaited first game. On a less optimistic one, however distinguished Benitez’s previous record, the task is very hard indeed now. I must admit that I can’t remember the last time a team has ever been rescued from the bottom two by a manager with only ten games to go? After watching our new manager for fifteen years since those happy times in Valencia though, I still have alot of faith.