No Time to Waste! Benitez starts work immediately

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Rafa Benitez had been manager of Newcastle for just 90 minutes when he ordered his players – previously on a day off – to report to the training ground, get changed into their kit and head out for an impromptu session.

There are 10 more important 90-minute periods to come, but as far as starts go it was ruthless and decisive – the exact opposite to the team he inherits.

Compare that to Joe Kinnear’s arrival in 2008 when he immediately gave his squad two days’ holiday. In fact, they never returned and were duly relegated.

Benitez knows the scale of the challenge that awaits in escaping the bottom three, but measured against that is the potential of the club he has chosen, for the Spaniard wanted Newcastle as much as they wanted him.

Why? Think of Liverpool – where he won the Champions League in 2005 – and the working-class values of a fan-base for whom football is a way of life, not just a pastime.

On Tyneside, that passion, obsession and fear is every bit as intense. It is no surprise the likes of Kevin Keegan, Peter Beardsley and Terry McDermott are legends at both clubs.

The rhythm of the week beats in anticipation of Saturday at St James’ Park. Tap into that and give the followers a team they can be proud of and, as one of those close to Benitez said, ‘you can be a God up there’. And boy do they need someone to worship.

Benitez is arguably the most ambitious appointment in the club’s history. There was Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson, yes, but they were coming home.

Benitez started the season at Real Madrid, no less, and among the world’s elite-level managers. Newcastle, in fairness, have pulled off an almighty coup.


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