Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Charnley May Keep out of Spotlight - but He Ensures United Shine; THE AGENDA: United Managing Director Has Had His Critics but He Has Played Pivotal Role

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Charnley May Keep out of Spotlight - but He Ensures United Shine; THE AGENDA: United Managing Director Has Had His Critics but He Has Played Pivotal Role

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas NUFC Editor @MSIDOUGLAS

Rafa Benitez holds aloft the Sky Bet Championship trophy after yesterday's win over Barnsley. (Inset right) Lee Charnley shakes hands with Benitez last May after it was announced that the manager had agreed to extend his contract at St James' Park THIS has been Rafa Benitez's season - a campaign laced with hard work which arrived at its glorious conclusion a few minutes before the Championship's final season.

Benitez dictated the terms. He picked the players, re-energised the staff, coached the team and inspired a city. He was front and centre as Newcastle rediscovered its soul and integrity after some dark days in the Mike Ashley era.

He would not have it spun that way. All the way through the season he has insisted that it is a team effort; that he leads a staff who have backed him up magnificently over a long, arduous campaign.

A few cases to consider: when he collected his medal on the podium, he jabbed a finger at the crowd to indicate that this was for the people, not just him. And on Sunday night, he posed for separate pictures with the press team, the coaching staff and the wider staff at the club.

It was like playing 'Where's Wally' trying to spot Benitez in most of those snaps. He blended into the scenery behind staff who spend most of the team behind the camera or operating the mics. But it was typical of the man to try to shine a light on the hard work of others.

One man who didn't appear on any of the photos distributed to the public was managing director Lee Charnley (pictured left), a man who has spent much of his time in charge feeling like he's under siege.

Charnley's rise through the ranks at United reflected the trust of owner Ashley to try and manage the club the way he wanted it to be run. For the first two years, he was taking it in the wrong direction. Two relegation battles and a wrong-headed managerial appointment, combined with off-the-field mistakes, led to calls for him to go.

Criticism was fierce. Few held back. It will be difficult for some to forget what went before Benitez. Those mistakes might have cost others their jobs. …

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