Rafa Benitez says he’s prepared Newcastle United’s players for the new season just as he did his Real Madrid team a year ago.
Twelve months ago Benitez was in charge at the Bernabeu.
No, I’m not more relaxed, because when I decided to stay I wanted to make sure we are promoted. It’s my responsibility, it’s my challenge.Rafa Benitez
Now he’s preparing for a gruelling season in English football’s second tier.
Newcastle – who have had a low-key warm-up campaign in England, Ireland and Belgium – kick off their challenge with a fixture against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Asked if he had prepared United in the same way, Benitez said: “Yes.
“The Real Madrid players were very good professionals. I had no problems with them.
“The only problem was the Press inventing stories. Believe me we trained very well.
“This has been more football-orientated. The other one was business, marketing.
“We were in Australia and China with Real Madrid. We tried to do our job and we did well, especially in Australia. This one has been football, that has been the priority.
“But we have prepared the players the same way.”
Asked about the contrasting pressures of preparing the two clubs in pre-season, Benitez added: “It’s similar how you prepare.
“You are professional, you have good players and you prepare the team in much the same way.
“What you have to be careful of is assuming a player can work harder because he has less ability, you have to give them some freedom.
“You have to find the balance, and we did not need to encourage them.
“They have been working very hard during pre-season.
“Normally, the pre-season is the best time for the manager because there are no competitive games.”
While the pressures of managing at the Bernabeu are well-documented, Benitez does NOT feel more relaxed at United.
“No, I’m not more relaxed, because when I decided to stay I wanted to make sure we are promoted,” he said.
“It’s my responsibility, it’s my challenge. The difference is I’m more experienced. You take time to analyse things and make the correct decision.”