April 25 – Exactly 348 days after the anguish of being relegated, Newcastle United, one of English football’s most iconic clubs, are back in the big time at the first time of asking.
Eyebrows were raised when the much-travelled Rafael Benitez, one of Europe’s most accomplished coaches, decided to stay with the club at the end of last season but the Spaniard was feted by 50,000 fans as Newcastle secured promotion Monday night after beating Preston North End 4-1.
The big question now is whether Benitez, who has won a stack of titles including the Champions League, will still be in charge of Newcastle next season despite sealing an immediate lucrative return to the top flight – or whether he will want to move on.
“At the beginning when everyone was saying, ‘Rafa has no experience in the Championship, it will be tough’, that was right. But the fans have been amazing with me,” Benitez said.
“Their loyalty and everything it means to being a top team like this, with the city behind you. That is why I decided to stay, and now I am even happier than before that I made this decision. I am sure if we do the right things, we have to prepare everything to be strong enough for the Premier League.”
But asked specifically if he will be in charge of the club in the Premier League, Benitez answered: “You never know. That is football. Hopefully, we can put in the foundations for something that will be a guarantee for the future.”
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