If there’s one thing you can’t fault Rafa Benítez for during his time at Newcastle United, it’s his loyalty.
Staying with the club during their time in the Championship, the Spanish manager brought the Magpies back to the Premier League, where he made them competitive once more until the end of his contract.
The final few months of his deal were rife with speculation, but after a long saga, it was made clear he would leave once it expired.
Steve Bruce took over, and the St James’ Park club are currently 14th in the Premier League, while Benítez decided to take up the challenge of managing Dalian Professional in China.
Unfortunately, the recent Coronavirus outbreak around the world has postponed the start of the new season in the Chinese Super League, and with Benítez taking his club to Spain for pre-season, they have found themselves stuck in Alicante for at least two weeks of quarantine.
AS in Spain used this opportunity to have a chat with the former Newcastle manager, and they asked him what he was doing in China.
He said: “Having a distinct experience. Another culture, other values, a more formative project. Some people don’t understand that competing for something isn’t the same as having a job. We could have continued in Europe. We had offers, but we wouldn’t have competed for what we’re competing for there, because clubs that are fighting for titles and Champions League already had managers. Faced with that situation, this project came along.”
Benítez was then asked if he thought about it a lot before agreeing to moving to China.
He replied: “We had a stage of reflection in Newcastle, because there could have been a sale and a new project appeared. In Newcastle, we were close to home and this change could have entailed a strong financial commitment.
“However, it didn’t happen, and the previous project showed it didn’t want to grow (under Mike Ashley) because it hadn’t made the necessary investment. Then this project was born in China, which has a great investment. Behind this club is Wanda, the world’s leading construction company, which wants to and puts many means to improve football in Dalian.”