Steven Gerrard spoke about 'frosty' Rafa Benitez in his autobiography

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Newcastle fans have certainly been divided since Rafa Benitez was named as the replacement for former boss Steve McClaren on Friday, and those who have read Steven Gerrard's autobiography may not be as enthusiastic about the Spaniard's arrival.

Benitez agreed to a three-year contract to take over at St. James' Park and is charged with saving the club from relegation with ten games to go. As it stands, the Magpies are in 19th place and just a point adrift from safety with a game in hand on their rivals.

Ever since then, supporters have been debating the pros and cons of the former Real Madrid manager's arrival - and the search for more information has thrown up an interesting snippet from Gerrard's autobiography.

Released last year and serialised by the Daily Mail, Gerrard reflected on his illustrious career, which undoubtedly peaked with victory in the 2005 Champions League final.

Benitez was the mastermind of that historic success, but Gerrard admits that he never felt close to the Spaniard - although he did describe him as the best manager he'd worked with. The former Liverpool skipper also described the former Chelsea and Valencia boss as 'frosty'.

For Newcastle fans, the excerpt will certainly shed some light on the man who is now in charge of their club.

He wrote: “Rafa was appointed as Liverpool’s manager in June 2004 — and I was playing for England in the Euros in Portugal that summer.


“Gerard [Houllier] introduced Rafa to my mum. Rafa shook her hand, said hello and then immediately asked her a very blunt question: ‘Does Steven like money?’ “Apart from a standard ‘Hello... good to meet you’ introduction, those were the first words Rafa said to my mum. I thought: ‘What kind of question is that?’

“I can pick up the phone and speak to all of my previous Liverpool managers. Except for Rafa. It’s a shame because we probably shared the biggest night of both our careers — the 2005 Champions League victory in Istanbul — and yet there is no bond between us.

“I used to think he favoured our Spanish-speakers. He was an especially big fan of South American players, which is fine. It caused no problem between us. At Press conferences he might call other players by their first name but I was always ‘Gerrard’. It was the same in the dressing room. He would read out the team and use nicknames. But, for me, it would just be ‘Gerrard’.


“It wouldn’t have made me play any better if he’d suddenly started calling me ‘Stevie’. I just wanted to win the next game and I knew Rafa could, usually, help us achieve another victory. He was the best tactical coach I worked with at Liverpool and England so I didn’t care what he called me.

“If we were to bump into each other tomorrow there would be no unpleasantness but maybe a day will come when we can actually have a deeper and friendlier conversation and reflect on everything we experienced at Liverpool.

“Our working relationship was ultra-professional and his frostiness drove me to become a better player. I had a hunger to earn a compliment from him — but also a hunger to let him know he really needed me as a player. We were like fire and ice. Passion surged inside me, while Rafa was the strategic thinker.”

Benitez will have his first chance to show his shrewd tactical mind when Newcastle take on table-toppers Leicester on Monday - and the Toon Army won't care one jot if he's distant from his squad if he can help them avoid the drop.

Can Rafa Benitez help Newcastle avoid the drop this season?

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Alan Shearer
Premier League
Newcastle United
Steven Gerrard

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