Rafa Benítez’s record as a promotion specialist bodes well for Newcastle fans

Rafa Benítez is best known for winning La Liga with Valencia and the Champions League with Liverpool but the promotions he secured while in charge of Extremadura and Tenerife suggest he can mix it in the Championship

By Tom Mason for These Football Times, part of the Guardian Sport Network

The build-up to the first game of the league season is always accompanied by a febrile sense of anticipation for the campaign ahead. One set of fans who were more optimistic than most were those of Newcastle United. Despite an abject start to the 2015-16 season condemning them to relegation, results and performances had begun to turn around after the arrival of Rafa Benítez and his decision to stay at the club after their demotion had given plenty of cause for positivity.

Benítez, with his undeniable star power and strong managerial record, was granted greater autonomy over transfer policy than previous Newcastle bosses and oversaw the acquisitions of a number of high-quality, high-profile players while getting rid of some of those who had failed last year. In short, there was plenty for Newcastle fans to be happy about.

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