What has Rafa Benitez changed during his short but sweet tenure
Photo Credit:(Gettyimages/Serena Taylor)

Newcastle United under Alan Pardew and Steve McClaren was a club with no hope, identity or joy.

However, one man changed all of that in less than one season, Rafa Benitez transformed this sleeping giant into a club ready to burst with potential.

Benitez tried to build from the ground up at Newcastle, constantly battling against Mike Ashley to invest more into the training ground and academy.

But what else has the Spaniard left behind for the next manager to try and build upon?

A core group of players

Benitez was slowly but surely building a squad of players that gave 100% every game and would follow instructions down to a tee.

There is not one player in the current squad that did not want to play for the club under Benitez, he made the players believe they were good enough to compete and demanded they played for the shirt and the fans.

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The Spaniard only brought players to the club that were willing to sacrifice personal achievements for the good of the team and that showed, especially during the two seasons in the Premier League.

As well as a group of hardworking players, Benitez has left behind a squad with some talented players across the pitch including Fabian Schar, Sean Longstaff, Miguel Almiron and Ayoze Perez.

There is certainly something to build on for the new manager, but their most difficult task will be re-engaging with the fans which seems like an almost impossible task.

More balance 

Benitez always insisted he wanted at least three or four quality players in each position to force players to fight for their position.

However, the biggest area of neglect from the board was at left-back and upfront.

For three years Benitez was having to play Vurnon Anita, Jack Colback and Javier Manquillo at left-back when Paul Dummett was out injured or having to fill in at centre back.

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However, the Spaniard has brought in a number of players that can help the team out when needs be with players such as Christian Atsu, Ciaran Clark and Isaac Hayden.

Benitez has instilled a mentality in each member of the squad that they should be in the starting XI which has made the whole squad more balanced as they can all fill in and do a good job.

Whereas under previous managers if certain players were missing the whole team would crumble, for example under McClaren if Georginio Wijnaldum was not playing the squad would crumble as he was the best player surrounded by average players.

Whereas under Benitez, if someone like Matt Ritchie was having to play wing-back Atsu stepped in.

When Mo Diame, Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-Yueng were injured Sean Longstaff and Hayden ran the midfield for the second half of the season.

Offered hope

Benitez proved that there is a way to work against Ashley and that there is a way to get under his skin.

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The Spaniard was in a constant battle against Ashley ever since he took the job in 2016 and it has been an uphill battle.

Benitez was always fighting for what is best for the club, fans and the city as he knew there was something special to be unlocked.

However, all his battling has not fallen on deaf ears it has allowed a fanbase to realise that one day Ashley will be gone and someone will take the club forward.

Also, Benitez was able to get something from Ashley that nobody else had in recent history and that was for Ashley to sanction a club record transfer fee for Almiron last January.

Hopefully, everything that Benitez has left at the club and what he has brought to the community, city and the fans will be remembered for a long time.

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