Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez is still receiving praise for his efforts in turning around a team that fell apart last season.
Managing the Magpies dressing room is one of the biggest achievements of the Spanish coach.
Picking lessons from the failure of Claudio Ranieri in managing the dressing room after Leicester City’s huge success last term, it was obvious that it was a love story gone sour. There was likely a player revolt and dressing issues as per contributions to the team’s achievements despite odds of 5000 to 1.
Same thing happened to United after former manager Alan Pardew led the team to a top five finish. Many players wantedrecognition and this was evident as they asked for contract improvements and more bonuses and all that.
Papiss Cisse did not hide his disappointment when it did not happen. Fabricio Coloccini was obviously disenchanted and Pardew could not manage the crisis that was brewing. After such heights and with a ‘Manager of the Year’ award, he would not have found it difficult to get another decent offer but he stuck with the job. The result was obvious: eroded team spirit.
Benitez was fair and open from the get-go. He asked them to work with him and played them by rotating across the tournaments. Even a top star in the set-up like Ayoze Perez was limited to 17 games despite his credentials and capabilities. Christian Atsu has way less than 1000 minutes this term but both players combined to get the result against Brighton – a game changer for the team.
Daryl Murphy – who has rarely gotten a chance this term – also came on and played his part. The team morale was and is still high, and there are no issues with favouritism as selection is clear. Benitez might leave after a year of helping them to the top flight but he is gradually writing his name in gold.