Most Newcastle fans are likely eager for Rafa Benitez to remain at the club long-term. That’s no real surprise, given how good he’s been since he joined the club.
It’s also no surprise, then, that Newcastle are willing to finally give the Spaniard what he wants – in the form of improvements to the Newcastle Academy – with the Chronicle noting that a number of changes are expected in that regard over the coming months.
If that keeps Benitez at the club long-term, that’s huge news for Newcastle. The longer he’s at the club, the better off we’ll be. There’s no way around that.
However, this also bodes well for life after Benitez, too. Realistically, the benefits of this news will be felt within the next 5-10 years. Just look at teams like Chelsea and Man City. They invested in their academies years ago, yet only now are players like Callum Hudson-Odoi and Phil Foden being given a chance.
Newcastle’s situation is different, of course, as we prioritise youth development given our lack of spending power, and that’s led to huge success with the emergence of players like Sean Longstaff.
But that doesn’t change the fact that, in time, things are going to be far better at Newcastle. With more attention on age groups like the under-18s and below, the players that are 13, 14 or 15 years old are finally going to get the attention they deserve, and when they start to come of age in the mid-2020s, the Magpies will reap the benefits.
It’s easy for fans to immediately look at the academy developments and see them as the club trying to keep Benitez. But the decision actually goes far beyond that – and its fantastic news for Newcastle.