Rafa Benitez hails ‘methodology’ at Newcastle’s Academy and says foundations in place for long-term success

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez
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Rafa Benitez feels the foundations are in place for him to build on at Newcastle United.

Benitez is battling to keep the relegation-threatened club in the Premier League.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Newcastle are second-bottom and three points adrift of safety ahead of Saturday’s game against 17th-placed Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Benitez, appointed earlier this month after the dismissal of Steve McClaren, feels small changes behind the scenes can make a big difference at the club, which had plans for a new training ground approved in 2014.

And the 55-year-old, given time, does not believe it will be “difficult” to make the longer-term improvements he feels are necessary on and off the pitch – if the club can win its short-term battle against relegation.

Asked if he was surprised by the size of the club and it’s support, Benitez said: “I was not surprised because I was expecting a big club.

“And the main thing is you see the fans, you see the passion, you see the atmosphere, so that is massive.

“Coming here, the staff are fine. They are all professionals and they are doing their jobs, so it is all fine.

“The training ground, they have the preparations for the new building so we can improve things but you can do you job still, it is not a problem.

“Why is the club where we are at the moment?

“From outside you will have plenty of reasons why, from inside? You can see that we have to change little things.

“But the positive thing for me is – it’s not difficult.

“You know two or three things will improve everything, and it is not difficult and it is not if we stay it will be impossible.

“I am sure that if we do this, we will be fine.”

Benitez – who has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave should the Newcastle go down – last week visited the club’s Academy, which is next to the club’s first-team training ground in Benton, last week.

And he was impressed with the “methodology” being used by coaching staff at the complex.

“I was at the Academy the other day, and it’s fine,” said Benitez.

“People say ‘but we don’t produce players’. Yet the methodology, the way that they (the Academy coaches) are working is fine.

“So, obviously, to produce players we have to bring the best players in the area or in the country, though sometimes you cannot because you don’t pay as much.

“But the way that they work, I could see that the ideas are good.

“Now you have to obviously to know more in detail what they are doing but the ideas were good.

“Here, the staff, the people that are working here, they are doing the right things.

“So we have to change maybe two or three things that I will not say now, but I am sure that the club as a club and the team as a team will improve a lot.”