Rafa Benitez has claimed that he understands the “disappointment” of Newcastle United fans at the moment.
The Spaniard left Tyneside over the summer after failing to agree terms on a new deal with the club, and has hinted that he has sympathy for supporters as some conduct boycotts.
The Magpies’ most recent home crowd, against Brighton last Saturday evening, was their lowest for eight years.
When asked about that attendance figure in a Q&A for the Athletic, Benitez said: “I have continued following Newcastle United and I am sure that there will be a point when they will do well and the fans will support the team.
“But I also understand the situation and the disappointment now.
“But I have the desire to see them do well. I wish them all the best, like I did in the past.”
How Newcastle fans must wish they still had Benitez at the helm this season. Make no mistake, things weren’t always easy under the Spaniard, as shown by his record of 62 wins from 146 matches, as per Transfermarkt, but there was definitely an air of optimism around St. James’ Park that has been chronically lacking throughout the duration of Mike Ashley’s tenure. Benitez was a figurehead behind whom fans could rally themselves, and his presence allowed them to still feel positive affinity with a senior member of the club they idolise. Without him, however, things feel gloomy, and nothing has exemplified that as overtly as the boycott campaign. If Benitez has still be in charge, would the Toon Army have recorded their lowest attendance in eight years last Saturday? It’s pure supposition, but you guess almost certainly not.