I recently ran a poll on Twitter asking NUFC fans, who they would have preferred to have taken over from McClaren when his time at St. James Park was cut short. The results? 93% in Rafa’s favour over David Moyes with the remaining 7%.
It would appear that finally an appointment has been made that the Geordie faithful can fully support and get behind, but has it come too late in the season to save Newcastle United?
There is no questioning Benítez’s credentials, you don’t get the opportunity to manage such illustrious clubs, such as Real Madrid or Chelsea. Without being recognised as one of World Football’s leading managers. But is it the right appointment for Newcastle United in their current situation?
Enter David Moyes, before his ill fated time at Manchester United, he became the 3rd longest serving manager in the league. Clearly credentials of an established first class manager. Transforming Everton from a club who finished 17th to a club who challenged for the Champions League consistently – in the words of ex player Kevin Kilbane. Three 5th placed finishes back to back, in the league something to not take lightly. What Newcastle would give for that now.
Clearly two exceptional candidates for the open vacancy at St. James Park, I will suggest why I believe the Newcastle board opted for the manager with the bigger reputation but not the right one for the situation.
Head to head stats show that Benítez has spent 23 years in management to Moyes’s 17 years (Since sacked by Real Sociedad in November 2015), undoubtedly both have a wealth of coaching experience. But in that time Benitez has managed 12 clubs to Moyes’s 4. Suggesting Benítez likes a fresh challenge regularly.
What Newcastle Need:
What do Newcastle United need more than anything at the moment? Stability. The constant chopping and changing of management from season to season provides no opportunity for consistency to take place.
Arguably The Magpies most successful period in recent times, comes under the late great Sir Bobby Robson. During 1999 – 2004, Newcastle finished 11th, 4th, 3rd, 5th and reached the Semi Finals of the UEFA Cup.
With this in mind and taking into account the late Sir Bobby Robson, you would find it hard to disagree with this statement ‘Success = Consistency + Stability + Time’.
Moyes created something special at Everton during his 10.5 seasons at the club, he clearly likes to take on projects over an extended period of time. Something Benitez isn’t known particularly for. (Longest serving time at Liverpool 2004-2010)
Even in this current appointment, it has the feel of Rafa only being an interim manager for the remainder of the season. (Clause in contract, Benitez can leave if Newcastle get relegated).
Can you really see Benítez managing in The Championship? Ask the same question about Moyes and I can see it happening.
No doubt, David Moyes’s management reputation isn’t in great shakes at the moment, but given time. He could have turned Newcastle United into a steady, hard working, positional machine like he did with Everton FC.
Training Methods & Tactics:
After researching Benítez and Moyes it would appear that each other’s tactics couldn’t be more different. Benítez adopts an 80% working with the ball & 20% concentrating on fitness approach.
Whereas Moyes very much prefers relentlessly drilling squads about using ‘space efficiently’. Often breaking a training pitch up into 16 segments, directing players where they should be. Very much expecting players to take ‘positional responsibilities’.
Looking at Moyes’s track record at all his clubs he’s managed, it’s an approach he’s carried throughout his career to date. ‘Secure a draw and then build on top of that’ if you could call that an approach.
(Everton Record: Games;518 Won; 218 Drawn; 139 Lost; 161 – Win % = 42.0%)
You could have also have seen Moyes getting the same out of JonJo Shelvey as he did with Arteta or Phil Neville. Calm, patient midfielders who have the ability to knock the ball from the one flank to another. A key aspect to the tactics Moyes tries to install in his teams, something Shelvey could do.
(Skip to 45 seconds in to video)
Benítez approach to management is vastly different, at Madrid his tactics were seemed to confuse the superstars at ‘Los Blancos’. His aim was simple enough on paper, attacking players were supposed to be given the freedom to go wherever they pleased, to distract and disturb opposing defences. But in practice, it lead to players such as Bale & Isco colliding with one another. Or Ronaldo & Jesé overcrowding a favoured position.
Benítez will have to change this approach if he is too succeed at Newcastle and steer them from relegation. Hence my opinion Newcastle would be more beneficial to Moyes steely grinding out results driven approach rather than Benítez’s attacking flair football.
British Based Players:
For the Black & White stripes of Newcastle United to return to being at least a Top 10 Premier League Club (It’s the least the devoted Geordie supporters deserve) a British base of players need to stand up and become Newcastle’s spine.
Newcastle teams in the past when successful have always had a strong British base, who truly understand the passion Geordie fans have for their team. If you give your all for Newcastle fans, they will stand by you.
2002-03 season Newcastle finished 3rd in the league, a remarkable achievement under Sir
Bobby. Their spine of players consisted of Shearer, Bellemy, Jenas, Woodgate, Dyer and the late Gary Speed. A huge nucleus of British players.
In comparison to the current squad’s nucleus of Colback, Shelvey, Townsend and Taylor.
You’d have to agree that during his time at Everton, Moyes understood the importance of having British experienced players in the squad;
2004/05 (Finished 4th): David Weir, Duncan Ferguson, James McFadden & Leon Osman
2007/08 (Finished 5th): Hibbert, Baines, Jagielka & Neville (c)
You may counteract this point by suggesting that it’s just how the Premier League has developed with more international talent in the league. But look at Leicester City this season, their spine includes: Danny Simpson, Danny Drinkwater, Andy King & of course Jamie Vardy.
In his time in charge of Liverpool, Benítez relied on two British players to provide the passion and pride of Liverpool in Gerrard & Carragher.
You might disagree with the points I’ve discussed in his article and Benítez might provide to be an astute signing.Hopefully Rafa can keep Newcastle up, otherwise the Premier League will be losing out on some of the most passionate supporters in the game. My point of view is that Moyes should have been given an opportunity to revolutionise Newcastle United into a solid, hard to beat outfit over a substantial period of time.
But hey, what do I know. Rafa is a magician after all.
Thanks for reading folks!