Why Rafa Benitez cancelled Newcastle’s players’ day off

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez
  • Benitez’s first act to summon players for session
  • Spaniard working on tactics for Leicester game
  • Club’s ‘apology’ to sacked head coach McClaren
  • Benitez’s backroom team revealed by Newcastle

Rafa Benitez cancelled his Newcastle United players’ day off – as he didn’t think he had a day to waste.

Benitez was yesterday appointed as the new b0ss.

The 55-year-old has signed a three-year deal, though there is a break clause in the event United are relegated to the Championship.

Benitez succeeded Steve McClaren, who had dismissed earlier in the day by managing director Lee Charnley after a troubled nine-month tenure.

And his first act was to call the players in for an unscheduled training session at their Benton HQ.

Benitez told second-bottom Newcastle’s squad that he didn’t have a day to waste as set about preparing them for Monday night’s game against Premier League leaders Leicester.

Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren

The former Real Madrid, Liverpool and Chelsea manager was looking to get back to basics, having studied the club’s recent games.

Benitez is keen to work on team shape ahead of the visit to the King Power Stadium.

The Spaniard will face the media over the weekend ahead of the fixture.

“I have the pleasure to confirm I have committed to a legendary English club, with the massive challenge of remaining part of the Premier League,” said Benitez.

It will be a challenge not just for me and my staff, but for the players, the club and the fans

Rafa Benitez

“It will be a challenge not just for me and my staff, but for the players, the club and the fans.

“All of us must push together in the same direction and with the same target in mind. This is the reason why I’m going to ask for your total support to successfully complete this task.

“Personally, it means my return to the Premier League, closer to my home and my family. I can’t be happier.”

The Magpies had earlier issued a statement apologising to McClaren for the handling of his protracted dismissal.

Charnley met Benitez for face-to-face talks once McClaren had been told of his sacking.

“I am very pleased to welcome Rafa Benitez to the club,” said Charnley. “In Rafa, we have, without doubt, secured the services of one of Europe’s top managers.

“He has managed some of the most successful teams at the very highest level of the game and we are proud to now have him as our manager.

“Our sole focus now is to give our full support to Rafa, his coaching team and the players in order to secure our status in the Premier League.”

Paul Simpson, Alessandro Schoenmaker and Steve Black followed McClaren out of the door.

However, Ian Cathro and Simon Smith have been kept on by Benitez, who was brought Fabio Pecchia, Francisco de Míguel Moreno, Antonio Gomez Perez with him to St James’s Park.