Chris Waddle has backed Rafa Benitez’s organised, disciplined approach to ensure Newcastle remain in the Premier League.
The Magpies look set for a second straight season of struggle due to underinvestment in the team, but the club icon backed the manager.
He also used the example of the top flight’s basement manager Manuel Pellegrini to favourably compare Benitez’s pragmatism.
What did he say?
He told the BBC: “Rafa is a very good coach at shutting up shop and nicking results. He did a fantastic job to keep them up.
“But to do it a second season running with the same players is very hard because mentally and physically it is very hard on the players to work the system he plays.
“Rafa’s very tactical. The problem for Newcastle is when they go a goal down and have got to come out a bit. But he knows how this works, whereas Pellegrini is very attacking and may have to adjust his style a bit, get a result somewhere and hope to kick on from there.
“I would say they have got enough to stay up but they will be in a battle. I don’t see them getting away from it with 10 or 15 games to go. It will a long season but they have got the manager to get through it.”
“At Newcastle it is totally ‘In Rafa We Trust’. Rafa respects the fans and it must be great thinking they could be in a bottom six battle and the fans will be on your side.
“In a few weeks they could turn on Pellegrini or whoever is down at the bottom but at Newcastle, Mike Ashley gets it in the neck; not Rafa. If Rafa stays in the Premier League he will get pats on the back – for Pellegrini, time will tell.”
Is Waddle right?
Benitez’s approach is perfect to get the most out of Newcastle’s limited team. Many observers would say Newcastle will be safe and it’s unlikely that’s due to the quality of the players.
He just has to ensure he doesn’t demand too much from his players; Rafa is a known perfectionist and not the best man-manager. As Waddle eludes to, he must make sure the squad stays on his side; the fans certainly are.