Rafa Benitez reveals why he follows Ant and Dec and James Bay on Instagram – and his love for Bruce Lee and judo

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez says he can better communicate with Newcastle United’s players – thanks to his daughters.

Benitez has opened up about management ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Huddersfield Town.

Players are like teenagers, many of them. You have to think ‘what would I say to my daughters in this situation? How would I communicate?’. It really works with some players.

Rafa Benitez

The 16th-placed club is a point above the Premier League’s relegation zone with 12 games left to play.

Benitez started out in management more than a quarter of a century ago while at Real Madrid.

And United’s manager is as driven as ever as he attempts to guide Newcastle to safety.

“I always say I have good staff around me, young people around me,” said Benitez.

“You need that to give you advice on how to communicate. If not, you just get older, and it’s harder to communicate with the players.

“I can communicate, because I have those people helping me. We have all the latest technology and software.

“The way you talk with your daughter, you know how she’s thinking. It’s very useful.

“Players are like teenagers, many of them. You have to think ‘what would I say to my daughters in this situation? How would I communicate?’. It really works with some players.”

Asked if there were similarities between managing a family and a football team, Benitez added: “It can be similar, managing your daughters and players!”

Benitez’s two daughters advise him on social media.

The 58-year-old has 363,000 followers on Twitter and more than 70,000 followers on Instagram.

“Here’s a message on my phone from my daughter telling me about Instagram, saying ‘listen, you don’t have a clue, you have to do this and that. Put this and you’ll get more followers’,” said Benitez.

“She was texting me one hour ago about this. For me, I don’t need more followers, but for her it seems important!

“It’s important for young people now. We talk about Ant and Dec, and she says ‘oh, they’re big Newcastle fans and they talk well about you, so you need to follow them’.

“I have a Twitter account, which is attached to the website. I don’t run it myself, Instagram as well.

“At the beginning I was doing some photos, but the photos have to be a square and my daughter was telling me about that. She gives me advice.

“She tells me I have to follow certain people, because they’re Newcastle fans. Alan Shearer was easy! Ant and Dec were easy, too!

“I can then tell my social media team, although my team is just one person!

“She told me ‘James Bay is a famous singer, but also he’s a massive Newcastle fan and he says nice things about you, so follow him’. So I did.”

Benitez – whose family are based on Merseyside – enjoys watching cowboy films.

“The teenagers, what they watch now on the telly is rubbish,” said Benitez. “It’s a problem if I want to watch football or films!

“If I want to relax, I like to watch films about cowboys. I like action. I like to watch any western film that’s on TV. You have that channel, TMC, and sometimes they have movies about cowboys on and I like that.

“Clint Eastwood, I like a lot. A lot of the Spaghetti Westerns were filmed in Almeria, in Spain. Those films are not so good, because you can see the Indians still wearing their wristwatches! You can see the telephone cables in the background.

“I have been to Almeria. It’s like a desert, very dry. They don’t have too much water.

“In Spain, I read many novels about the Wild West.”

Benitez also likes Bruce Lee films and judo.

“I loved characters such as Bruce Lee, and I did judo for seven years,” said Benitez. “From the age of six to 13.

“My moves now are not as good as they once were. But I can fight if I have to fight. I’m ready, I have done it all my life.

“At 13, I had made it to brown belt, then I gave up judo to join the Real Madrid academy.

“Three years later my brother was doing the black belt exam, so I did it, too. You had to compete in five fights, and win three, to get the belt. But they killed me, because I no longer had the power in my arms at this time.

“The main thing in judo is this part of your arm, you have to hold all of the time. So, if you don’t practice, then the first fight is fine, but after three or four, you have no power left.

“I was quite tall at the time for the weight band, but the guy I fought against in the first fight, he was like this (motions small and very wide).

“Technically, I was fine. But when you go to the floor, you need the power.”