“They love Rafa Benitez anyway. Their fans are fantastic. They play in front of 50,000 plus at home and Benitez is very, very good with the crowd. He is the star, more than any of their players on their pay roll. Benitez is the man who will keep them up. He got them up last year, he’s a terrific manager. He’s a Champions League winner, for heaven’s sake.
“That’s why the Geordie fans love him so much. He’s batting below, if you like, his average, he’s that good. He should be at a bigger club than Newcastle – although Newcastle’s potential is fantastic, of course it is. I think any fair-minded football fan will hope the takeover goes ahead and Rafa Benitez gets the money he deserves because apart from one or two coded messages he’s kept his head down and orchestrated a very, very important victory. It’s a classic example of someone who respects the fans – as he did at Liverpool, and Liverpool fans love him as well. It’s a long way back from the Potteries to Newcastle but I’m delighted for them as an objective football reporter. They are proper football fans.”