Pep Guardiola looks set to claim the Premier League Manager of the Year award come the end of the season, but there’s a few bosses that have ran him close.
David Wagner keeping Huddersfield in the Premier League, Sean Dyche leading Burnley to Europe and Roy Hodgson turning around Crystal Palace’s fortunes are just three examples of superb overachieving.
And then there’s Rafa Benitez at Newcastle.
With one of the weakest squads in the league, Benitez has led Newcastle to a tenth-placed finish, 11 points clear of relegation.
But there is fear over Benitez’s future at St. James’ Park as his relationship with owner Mike Ashley often brought into question.
But after Newcastle’s 3-0 victory against Chelsea on the final day of the season, Ashley released a statement praising the Spaniard and promised he would back him with transfer funds in the summer.
ASHLEY'S END OF SEASON STATEMENT
“I would like to thank Rafa Benitez for his magnificent achievement this season,” the statement read.
“Rafa, as always, has my full support, and contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him. I hope very much that Rafa will remain at Newcastle United.”
But Newcastle fans have heard it all before.
And after Gary Lineker read out the statement on Match of the Day, Newcastle legend Alan Shearer wasn’t having any of it.
Shearer reacted angrily, saying: “Copy and paste. And change the date…”
He clearly wasn’t impressed with Ashley’s words and Newcastle fans were loving Shearer simply refusing to hide his utter contempt for the businessman.
After the win against his former club, Benitez insisted that he wanted to carry on with the Magpies to build on their decent season.
“I still have one year left on my contract, so it is different," he said.
“Now, we have to make sure that we do the right things and are on the same page.
“The fans have ambitions and we have ambitions, and we have to know if everybody has the same feelings too. The potential is there.
“It is easy to see what we have, now we need to do something more and be a little bit better.”