Rafa Benitez discusses the challenges of working in China - six weeks after leaving Newcastle United

Former Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez has described his China adventure as a ‘challenge’ – with language proving the Spaniard’s biggest barrier.

Tuesday, 13th August 2019, 1:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th August 2019, 2:02 pm
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Rafael Benitez Manager / head coach of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Newcastle United at Vitality Stadium on February 24, 2018 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Having worked in his native Spain, Italy and England, Benitez’s linguistic skills have never been questioned, in fact, they’ve proved one of his biggest strengths.

But things are very different out in the Far East, where Benitez now works for Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League.

“The whole experience is a challenge, none bigger than the language,” he said in The Athletic.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I have worked in Spain, Italy and England, but this is very different.

“Here, you need a translator for everything: to transmit your thoughts in training sessions, team talks and to the media, down to working on computers. But there is a rich culture here; the city, the food, the life are all nice. And, as I say, we have been treated with nothing but respect.”

Benitez admits he has been fascinated by China, and the challenge at hand in Dalian.

“At Dalian, we are trying to build something important in this massive, fascinating country,” said Benitez.

“It is another level, another way of doing things, another culture, but they believe in us, they listen to us and their priority is not just to make a profit. They are investing big money in developing a new scouting department, they are building a new training ground for the academy, the under-23s and, obviously, the first team. And, yes, they are using our experience to guide them.

“The Chinese Federation tries to promote young players, which means the top teams like Guangzhou Evergrande, who have had the best young Chinese players for years, can manage better than us.

“We can’t compete with them at the moment, but our target this year is to finish in the top 10 (we are sixth), and we are improving and growing. They expect us to leave a legacy, the basement on which to build something.”

Benitez left United on June 30 after three years on Tyneside.