Why Rafa Benitez is ‘excited’ by the prospect of taking Newcastle to Burton

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez.
Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez says he won’t have a problem making the transition from the Bernabeu to Burton Albion.

Benitez this week agreed to stay on and manage Newcastle United in the Championship.

The 56-year-old started last season at Real Madrid, whose home is the 81,044-capacity Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Newcastle will be visiting some less glamorous grounds next term, including Burton’s 6,912-capacity Pirelli Stadium home, in English football’s less glamorous second tier.

Benitez, appointed in March, has never managed in the division, though he has managed in Spain’s lower divisions.

And the hugely-experienced manager feels he and his players can quickly adjust to the demands of the Championship following the club’s painful relegation from the Premier League.

I am quite confident that they will do an even better job during a whole season. So I am quite excited to see how they will do across a whole season.

Rafa Benitez

Asked if he intended to speak to people about the Championship, he said: “Obviously, I know that some people will say that, but still I was starting in the second division, or in the youth teams, in Spain, then the second division in Spain and two promotions.

“Then we played the teams here in the FA Cup, the Capital One Cup, so we know the league.

“We have seen a lot of games, and we have some players who have played in the Championship before.

“So we have information and obviously we have to perform.

“Then you will say ‘hmm, maybe’. If we win the first game, then you will say we have a good team. But that is football.

“I think we have enough information, enough people with experience.

“We will talk with them, and maybe we will bring in players with experience in the Championship.

“The main thing is to do the right things and to work hard every single week.”

United revealed that Benitez – who had a clause in his contract allowing him to walk away in the summer in the wake of relegation – had agreed to stay on Thursday.

And the Spaniard – who plans to take his team to Dublin for a low-key pre-season training camp – was upbeat about the challenge ahead of him.

“A few weeks ago I was convinced that we were going to stay in the Premier League, but these things happen,” he said.

“So that when you are in the Championship, you have to decide, and I say that I am really pleased because I can see that I will have a lot of things that I was looking for.

“I think it will be very positive for everyone.

“If, next year, we are in the Premier League, then we will enjoy the whole season, but we have to start doing things well from day one.

“For example, we will do a pre-season thinking with the priority. Lee (Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director) told me what do we want to do and it has to be football. The priority has to be football.

“My relationship with him is simple and quite easy – whenever I ask about football, it’s fine.

“His priority is to make sure that the football decisions are fine, because then it will make sure we are in the Premier League next season.”

Asked if he was excited, Benitez added: “I am a football man. I am a coach and I like to coach.

“I have seen the evolution, the progression of our players during these weeks.

“I am quite confident that they will do an even better job during a whole season.

“So I am quite excited to see how they will do across a whole season.”