Rafa Benitez admits ‘something had to change’ at Newcastle as he stamps his mark behind scenes

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

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Rafa Benitez will continue his root and branch review at Newcastle United – after admitting ‘something had to change’ at the club.

The club may be in between seasons, but Benitez has been working overtime at the training ground in a bid to get his ideas across to the staff.

The Spaniard committed his future to Newcastle last month, signing a new three-year contract after deciding to stay on, despite having the option to walk away after relegation.

The 56-year-old has been handed full control of footballing matters by managing director Lee Charnley and owner Mike Ashley, and has been working around the clock to implement his ideas and changes before the players return for pre-season training.

Benitez is holding meetings with the medical department, scouting staff and the academy coaches, while contractors have already started making alterations to the Benton-based training ground.

Benitez said: “It’s an opportunity to change things and we will try to make the right decisions and will go in the right direction.

“I think everybody realised something had to change and it’s a great opportunity to do it now.

“We are working very hard. Since the first day I signed the new contract we have started improving and analysing the training ground to see what we can do, and I have a meeting in the academy, and with the medical department and for the squad with the scouting department

“We have already been working in different areas and I think we’re changing little things in each department and trying to bring the best for the players.

“We need to improve the team experience because that is also crucial for the Championship.”

Benitez and facilities manager Eddie Rutherford have been working with contractors to reconfigure offices, dressing rooms and shower blocks at the training ground to improve the functionality and comfort for players and staff.

A new relaxation space is also being created for United’s stars to use in between double training sessions, while a 4G surface will be installed in the indoor tent, as well as a host of new equipment in the gym.

It’s not just the first-team squad, however, that Benitez is looking at. One area of concern for supporters has been the recent results of the club’s academy teams, with both the Under-18s and Under-21s suffering poor results over the last couple of seasons.

Benitez has defended the work of the coaches, insisting recruitment is difficult, but wants to see an improvement in some of the coaching techniques instead.

He added: “It is not easy to bring in players.

“What we can do is try to improve the way that we coach, the way that we give them the instruction and understanding of the game.

“We have already had this meeting and obviously it will depend on the players and it will depend on the coaches but we will try to share our ideas and hopefully it will be good for the young lads.”