It was May 2016, Newcastle United had been confirmed as the third and final team to be going down, joining Norwich City and Aston Villa. However, the future was bright for the Magpies. After sacking Steve McLaren two months before, Rafa Benitez had taken over and tasked with keeping them up, yet even in relegation, the Spaniard stayed.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) 25 May 2016
After successful stints at Valencia, Liverpool and Chelsea where he won the Champions League, Europa League and two Spanish first division titles, Benitez tested himself by dropping into the depths of English football, a move that could easily make or break the rest of his career. However, he smashed it in the Championship, bringing the Geordies up as champions and endearing himself to the whole city.
Since his appointment, Benitez has been one of the darlings of the Northeast and has been looked at with God-like status from the fans. St James Park is a better place for his management, and as the ongoing struggles under Mike Ashley continue, the fans wouldn’t replace their incredible gaffer for anyone else, with his two full seasons at the club bringing promotion and then a 10th placed Premier League finish.
You can see what the Geordies made of Benitez’s decision to stay back in May 2016 here:
WE’RE GOING TO BE OK
— BRY (@BryOnTour) 25 May 2016
— Steve (@SteveyRegs) 25 May 2016
@premierleague on the day of the miracle of istanbul rafa is gearing up for another miracle
— koustav kanjilal (@koustav942) May 25, 2016
this news brings tears of joy to my eyes.
— Jake Hurst (@TheJakeHorst) May 25, 2016
this man is a toon legend
— ASHLEY OUT (@NUFC_UNITE) May 25, 2016
excellent news. Now get rid of Charnley and Carr.
— Rorschach (@RorschachNUFC) May 25, 2016
— Damon Hogg (@Dhogg96) May 25, 2016
— Kishore Anand (@kishore7_freddy) 26 May 2016
The Magpies were ecstatic when Benitez stayed at the club and will be desperate for him to outlast Ashley in his days as a Geordie.