Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Without Rafa, United Could Easily Become Another Leeds or Blackburn; FANS ARE CLINGING TO HOPE BENITEZ WILL STAY

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Without Rafa, United Could Easily Become Another Leeds or Blackburn; FANS ARE CLINGING TO HOPE BENITEZ WILL STAY

Article excerpt

Byline: LEE RYDER Chief Sports Writer lee.ryder@trinitymirror.com @lee_ryder

NEWCASTLE United's last message to fans was 10 days ago when the club released a 276-word statement which offered little to supporters on whether Rafa Benitez should stay.

That came just 48 hours after managing-director Lee Charnley had told fans to "rest assured" the club would "communicate" more "fully" in due course.

Almost two weeks on, though, the radio silence from St James' Park has made fans nervous, despite positive soundbites from both the local and national press which suggest the Benitez deal will be done soon.

However, fans start another week anxiously waiting for confirmation of Benitez's full-time arrival at St James' Park.

For some, failing to get Benitez could be the difference between buying a season ticket or taking a step back altogether and seeing if the same regime which once brought them Dennis Wise and Joe Kinnear can yet manage to stoop any lower.

However, Newcastle now have the chance to prove to their fans they have changed for the better.

Benitez is more than capable of bringing the good times back to St James' Park.

Although, amid the clamour for the Spaniard to stay, it should not be ignored that a club who are capable of playing in the Champions League, when run efficiently, have been allowed to stumble back into the Football League.

Normally there would be much more noise about that from fans, so United officials should be grateful to Benitez for stopping that from happening.

Compared to six years ago, some fans have taken relegation a little more lightly - but only because of the man who almost saved them.

While relegation has still left a sour taste in the mouths of most fans Newcastle - as a club - have not endured the fury of 2009 and that is largely down to the prospect of Benitez staying on as manager. He has kept hopes alive for the future but United should be doing more to show their appreciation to fans for their incredible and unwavering support for the team.

As the dust settles on the 2015/16 season, the patience and understanding of the fans, especially away from home, should be praised and noted.

They should be rewarded by the appointment of Benitez.

The loudest form of protests were at Watford during the FA Cup third-round exit and at Stoke City after the dismal 1-0 defeat in the Premier League.

At home, Newcastle fans did not really turn on Steve McClaren vocally until after a 3-1 defeat to AFC Bournemouth.

That is an incredible show of patience you will not find at most other clubs.

Anyone who suggests Newcastle fans are a demanding bunch have not observed the club closely during United's slide from fifth place to the Sky Bet Championship in the last four years.

True, there has been a huge question mark over the attitude and application of some players this season. …

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