Rafa Benitez Can Look to Loan Signings As A Measure Of His Achievements This Season
Relegation can never be inconceivable for Newcastle United. Not based on the pain they have suffered in recent times. But a return to the Championship does not quite fit with what Rafa Benitez is doing at the club at present.
That Benitez remained at the club after their relegation two years ago was something that the Newcastle faithful favoured in the midst of the continued uncertainty that takes place off the field at the club. But he has remained, and despite clear misgivings over the club’s transfer policy, he has stuck with the side, when at times his frustrations may have tempted him to leave it all behind.
With the likes of williamhill.com giving Newcastle a stronger shot at survival at 1/66 than the likes of West Ham, Swansea and Crystal Palace, who many may see as being at equal risk of relegation, it is likely we will see Benitez’s side in the upper echelon of English football next season.
So what is it that separates Newcastle from the rest of the pack who are fighting for survival?
Image Credit: Facebook Newcastle United FC. It’s in the blood
The first port of call is always the players. Despite Benitez working against Mike Ashley’s reluctance when it comes to recruiting new players, he has managed to make every signing count. Islam Slimani was one of three signings secured in the January transfer window. Like Martin Dubravka and Kenedy, he was a loan signing.
Having no long-term view at board level could spread a malaise to the first-team setup. But the Newcastle manager has proven his worth, in helping all three have an impact. Starting with Slimani, who arrived from Leicester, may seem an off-centre place to start, considering the Algerian has been set back by injury problems since his arrival on Tyneside.
But Slimani has proven to be a hugely positive influence and presence around the training ground and has illustrated his desperation to get game time, despite being set back by issues with his thigh. His positivity is something that was lauded by Claude Puel at Leicester. Such positivity can only add to the togetherness under Benitez’s stewardship.
Image Credit: Facebook Newcastle United Times
Goalkeeper Dubravka arrived from Sparta Prague and has quickly emerged as Newcastle’s first choice in goal. It may be to the disappointment of Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot, but the two clean sheets in four performances have been underpinned by robust and adroit displays in goal.
Similarly, Kenedy has proven the calibre that saw him move to Chelsea before Antonio Conte allowed him to move on loan after Christmas. He scored twice in a fine recent display for the Magpies over Southampton. His first, a half-volley after only a minute’s play; his second a tap-in to finish off a fine team move.
But it is what he offers in defence that complements his attacking prowess that has warmed him so much to Newcastle fans. And in his displays is the essence of what makes Benitez such a success.
Benitez is known for his attention to detail. That also comes into play when the scouting network he is overseeing is capable of delivering such solid returns despite the resistance he faces.
That he can fuse limited resources together in the circumstances is a remarkable achievement. And despite all his achievements in club football, maybe this is one that will give him particular satisfaction.
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