Rafael Benitez needs to rebuild Newcastle's reputation as well as his own

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For a football manager, no challenge is too difficult. Call it stubbornness, ego or just professional pride the thought of bringing a club from the depths of despair back to the elite level is always a tantalising prospect. That is project Rafael Benitez is facing after agreeing a three-year deal to manage Newcastle United in the Championship.

There are many managers with a glittering CV like Benitez that would feel this level is below their own personal standing in the game. The Spaniard deserves full praise for taking the challenge on but will know full well that the Championship is extremely difficult to negotiate.

The task for those who are relegated is to earn promotion at the first time of asking. Linger too long and you can be lost in the wilderness for a prolonged period of time as Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Ipswich among others have proven. So everyone at the club needs to be on the same page to prevent the same stagnation happening to them.


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Benitez is known to be extremely hard headed at the negotiation table and reports say he will have the last say on player signings. Don't be surprised if the lure of playing for the 56-year-old attracts some higher profile players that would not normally join a club in Newcastle's position. After the 'feel good factor' of Benitez's interim period where survival was always an uphill battle, now is where the hard work begins.

That is where the Spaniard will be in his element as he is a workaholic, almost to the point of obsession. His teams aren't regarded for playing the most eye-catching style and setting up an organised defence is his main strength. However, this happens to be an area where Newcastle have struggled for many seasons.

There will be some in the footballing world (old sparring partners Sam Allardyce, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho among them) who will be having a good chuckle at the thought of Benitez managing in the second tier of English football.

When arriving in England 12 years ago, Benitez along with Mourinho, was the hottest managerial talent on the scene. This time around the Newcastle boss is looking to rebuild his reputation after some bruising experiences at Inter Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid.

He may be the most successful coach to manage in the Championship for many a year, but reputations count for nothing once August comes around. All other 23 teams will see the Magpies as the biggest scalp in the league, and Newcastle will know that they will have to come with the right mindset every game.

Despite not taking place under the shining lights of the Premier League, this will be a fascinating storyline throughout the 2016/17 season and there is plenty on the line for all parties concerned.

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Alan Shearer
Newcastle United
Andros Townsend
Jonjo Shelvey
Premier League

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