On Sunday’s Match of the Day, Shearer, still with a face resembling that of a haemorrhoid-stricken pall bearer, despite the trouncing of Tottenham, asserted that had Benitez arrived sooner, Newcastle would not be limbering up to face Burton Albion next season.
This is set to become an enduring myth.
Confusing his opinion with provable fact, Alan reckoned: “If he (Benitez) had been given more games to have managed, then there’s no doubt about it – they would not have been relegated.”
Consensus on Tyneside is much the same and it’s hard to argue with the sacking of Steve McClaren, or that Benitez was the best available replacement.
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But we draw the line at “no doubt about it.” Despite a fine but one-off display on Sunday, the players weren’t good enough. They didn’t underperform; most of them really did lack the requisite talent and no manager could alter this.
But what of Benitez’s work thus far?
When he was appointed on March 11, Newcastle were second bottom and a point from safety. They subsequently failed to beat any of the other three teams in the bottom four; but by the season’s end had rocketed up to third bottom and two points from safety.
The man’s a wizard.
He failed to win any away fixtures, but hope was restored with home victories over two bottom-half sides with nothing to play for.
Tyneside’s latest messiah has been sacked by three clubs in six years and walked away from two others. He had a hope-restoring, decent start at Newcastle, but many new managers have made decent starts then gone on to be quite useless.
Benitez is far from useless and it’s understandable that Newcastle fans want to keep him. Their club might be immediately promoted.
But not for the first time, they’re getting a little carried away.