Why the Championship will NOT be a culture shock for Rafa Benitez at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.
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Rafa Benitez says Newcastle United will approach each Championship fixture as if it’s a Premier League match.

The relegated club kicks off its campaign in English football’s second tier on Friday.

Newcastle, bolstered by six summer signings, take on Fulham at Craven Cottage buoyed by an unbeaten pre-season.

It will be Benitez’s first experience of the division.

A year ago, United’s manager was in charge of Real Madrid, one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Asked how different the experience of preparing for the Championship had been so far, Benitez said: “In terms of football, I know the Championship because we played a lot of games in cup competitions.

“So you know the teams and you watch the TV and see the teams playing.

“It will be different because you will be there yourself this time, but the preparation of the team and everything else is similar.

“You want to prepare a team to be compact, and you want to compete.

“Will it be more physical? Yes, it could be.

“Then you have players with experience in the Championship and you hope that they can cope with the intensity and the physicality.”

Benitez, having decided to stay at Newcastle in the wake of last season’s relegation, feels he will “enjoy” the challenge ahead of him.

“I am happy and I have confidence in this team,” he said.

“We have some time to keep working and trying to improve the squad. But I think it’s normal to what I’m used to.

“Yes, you have changed the competition, but in terms of a team you are a manager and you have the opportunity to keep working the way you want to work and you enjoy your job.”