Rafa Benitez has the Toon Army believing again...
We sat down with @NUFCPortal to discuss Rafa Benitez and Newcastle's sucess this season...
So what have you made of Newcastle's season so far?
NUFC Portal: Well, its been a roller-coaster of feelings for most of the fans. The season started great, The lads put points on the board, and everyone was happy. Then the takeover saga started, and that had some effect on the team. Lost a lot of games, went down the table. Some fans were even questioning Rafa Benitez choice of tactics & the starting 11 he put on the field. Without the new signings made in January, we might not have this good run of form. And now the team is pretty awesome, winning games, and things looks really good now. NUFC need 2 more points, then we can say we are safe. I do look forward to the remaining games, I think we can achieve a top 10 finish. Rafa Benitez & the players have done a fantastic job.
Certainly has been a good season for the Toon Army. There seems to be quite the relationship developing between Rafa and the fans, what is it about Rafa that has won the fans affection to such an extent?
NUFC Portal: Good question, easy to answer from a Magpie. Rafa came at a point where everyone had lost faith in the club. NUFC where in a mess both on & off the field. Even a mastermind like Rafa Benitez could not help avoid being relegated. But even if he did not save us that season, the fans were falling in love because he really did try. Then against all odds he stayed, went down to the championship & won the league. He has transformed the club to a 100% professional club. And he really has shown that he cares about the club & the fans.
One thing we've heard less about lately is Mike Ashley. Where do you see the ownership situation?
NUFC Portal: Mike Ashley is not a kind of owner you want for a PL club. I don't think anyone likes him to be honest. He tries to sell the club, and he intend to sell it to a person who can invest a lot of money into the club. Amanda Staveley tried to buy the club in January, but they could not agree on price. But now that the club is almost safe, she's gonna come back with a new offer. So a change is in the horizon, for sure.
Ownership aside, which players have stood out for you this season?
NUFC Portal: Lascelles, Shelvey, Diame, Lejeune, Dubravka & Kennedy. I can also add Dummett. As I write this answer, I feel its wrong to not mention the whole team. There are so many players that have improved a lot. So maybe its wrong of me to single out a few names.
Shelvey and Lascelles may be looking at World Cup places, do you believe they should be called up?
NUFC Portal: I think its a big mistake by Southgate, if he decide not to pick them. We might look at a new Gate scandal if not. He must be stupid not to call them up to his WC squad. England does not at the moment have a better box opener than Shelvey.
Certainly will be one to keep an eye on. In terms of next season, what do Newcastle need to do to ensure it's as successful as this season?
NUFC Portal: That is hard to answer as we don't know who will be the owner of NUFC. I think if a new owner is in place, and Rafa Benitez has the money to spend on new players. He knows his stuff, and when more quality is added NUFC can fight for a EL spot next season.
Finally, what are your predictions for the rest of Newcastle's season? Can they get top 10? And how much will it mean?
NUFC Portal: I think its going be a real nice ending to the season. I think NUFC will get close to 50 pts, and that might give a top 10 finish. If that happens, we are all going to have a very nice summer with a big smile on our faces.