Rafael Benitez is doing a decent job overall. Newcastle will almost certainly be part of next season’s Premier League. It’s hard to imagine them finishing outside the Championship’s top two.
I should think so too. Although not the biggest club in the division (that’s Aston Villa), they have by far the most valuable squad.
No other club in the division could afford to do what they have done. For example Daryl Murphy has always been a good pro and a useful player at that level. But he is 34 next month, has little re-sale value and would be out of his depth in the Premier League.
Yet Newcastle have paid £3.5m for him, plus his wages – then barely used him. They are the only club in the division who could afford such luxury. Therefore it would be a damn bad manager who failed to get them promoted.
Some maintain that Benitez would have averted Newcastle’s relegation has he arrived sooner in 2015-16. This is a myth. All he achieved in 10 games was to move them from 19th to 18th.
They currently sit behind Brighton. That would do, but in more than one respect he has not yet proved the equal of Chris Hughton.
Now we have nine-change insult he presented to travelling fans for the humiliation at Oxford (something that caused fury when his predecessors did it). There was already the issue of his sacking by three clubs and resigning from two others in recent years. Good manager: but isn’t he trading on past glories, just a little?
I understand why Benitez has good will with him. But why so much of it?