We hardly hear of Rafa Benitez out in China.
But he does write an article in the Athletic, and in those articles, he talks about the players and the last club he managed – Newcastle United.
In his column yesterday, Rafa talked about a player whom he thinks can eventually become a coach because he reads the game so well and understands the game.
That is Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka who we signed for a measly £4M from Sparta Prague last year after an excellent loan spell at the end of the 2016-2017 season.
What a steal.
Martin is a good talker on the field, commands his box well, and is always very positive.
He is also an outstanding goalkeeper who we hope will soon sign a lengthy contract to stay on Tyneside.
The Slovakian talks a lot – both on and off the pitch – and he has been a leader ever since he arrived at Newcastle in January of last year.
Martin Dubravka with Rafa Benitez in 2018
This is what Rafa has said in the Athletic about Dubravka and why so few goalkeepers seem to into management:
“Being able to see and read the game – being able to think quickly – are important qualities for a manager.”
“I’m speculating now, but that’s why I think Martin Dubravka, who was our goalkeeper at St James’ Park, could become a coach.”
“That’s my feeling. He understands the game.”
“People rightly will point out that not too many keepers become managers but I wonder if that’s because in the past they tended to train separately from the rest of the team.”
“So they would have less involvement in terms of the sessions, tactics, positions and things like that.”
“Not long after I arrived in England, another manager came to Liverpool’s training ground at Melwood for a meeting.”
“When I asked him about a goalkeeper, he said, ‘Oh, well, he kicks the ball a very long way.’
“He didn’t say he was agile, made good saves or was brave. Just that he kicked the ball very far. That’s what it was all about back then.”
“In some teams — I will not name them — their keepers would have most passes in the final third of the pitch.”
“Times have changed. With keepers having to play with their feet more now, they have much more direct involvement.”
“In turn, that will help them learn more about tactics. In theory, they should be good managers because they have a much better position than anyone else to see what’s happening in a game and to analyze it.”
“Usually, they’re intelligent. With Martin, you could see all that. Perhaps, in the future, he will put that to use.”
“I feel the same way about Petr Cech, another intelligent and thoughtful goalkeeper.”
“It’s interesting that he has become Chelsea’s technical and performance advisor because although this kind of pathway is common in Spain, where players quite often go on to become technical or sporting directors.”
“It is still rare in England, where it’s often manager, coach and that’s it. Historically, there have not been so many options.”
Rafa Benitez appears to be wasted in China – surely a man of his ability should still be managing in the Premier League.
Oh well – that’s water under the Tyne Bridge now.
Martin Dubravka will be in goal for us at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
And if we can play as well as we did at home to Manchester United last time out, then we could well get a surprise win.
Although now many fans think that will happen.
What do you think?
This article was originally posted here