Even though he has officially left the club, the legacy Rafa Benitez has created at Newcastle United will live long in the memory.
The fact that that legacy is characterised by survival and steady progress instead of silverware and titles is more an indictment of the sorry state that the club are in, rather anything to do with his personal abilities as a manager.
Because Benitez will be so missed, however, it does mean that whoever replaces him has a sizeable task on their hands.
Not only are they walking into a club that has a notoriously rotten ownership, but they are also destined to be everybody’s second choice, simply because they are not Rafa.
A host of names have already been linked with the vacancy, and a quick glance down the list offers up a couple of standout candidates.
As reported by the Telegraph, Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is amongst them.
The 39-year-old enjoyed a decent start to like in the dugout during his debut season at Ibrox, and is being touted as a potential replacement for Benitez, but even in his absence, the Spaniard could still have an influence on the race for his old job.
Writing in a piece for the Chronicle, Chris Waugh said: “Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard – who won the Champions League at Anfield and was a world-class player – enjoyed a decent first season at Rangers, and he has been tipped as a potential candidate for the Newcastle role.
“The 39-year-old said last month that the United job was one that would interest coaches from across Europe, and he has an admiration for the Magpies.
“Yet, if he speaks with his former manager at Liverpool, then Benitez may warn him about the restrictions he may need to operate in on Tyneside – although, equally, the Spaniard may tell him it is too good an opportunity to turn down, too.”
It was always hard to imagine Gerrard taking the reins at St. James’s Park, and while that might still happen, you would assume that a conversation with Benitez would be enough to put him off the role.
Why would the Spaniard recommend a job that he himself has just left because the club couldn’t match his ambition?
Sure, the fans are great, and there is a lot of potential on Tyneside, but it will never be reached with Mike Ashley at the helm.
Benitez could still have a say, but don’t expect it to be a positive one.