MALCOLM MACDONALD has applauded Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez for his amazing title talk on the club’s return to the Premier League.
The Toon manager raised a few eyebrows outside St James’ Park when asked about his ambitions for next season.
Benitez said: “To build a strong team that can compete in the Premier League for everything. When I say everything I don’t say the title – but why not? You have to try.”
It was speculated that the Spanish coach had enjoyed a little bit too much Sangria as he celebrated promotion back to the top flight.
But Supermac happily raises a glass of his own to the Magpies boss giving the club more to think about than relegation.
So why not, as Benitez says, aim high, set the target of finishing No.1 and give the Geordie supporters a dream ahead of their new Premier League campaign.
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Macdonald can only remember one other manager using the word ‘title’ word even before a ball was kicked – his Luton boss Alec Stock back in the day.
He said: “Bosses will never broach that subject even come April but I recall Alec, when I very first joined, telling us on the eve of our first game that we should get promoted for the fans.
“He set me a target of 30 goals and when we won promotion I offered Alec a plastic cup of champagne and said, ‘I have got an apology, I didn’t hit your target. I only scored 29.’
“Alec replied, ‘Don’t forget next season my old son, you owe me one.’
“I can see nothing wrong with setting targets and Rafa is right to set those sights high. When I read what he said, I hoped he would buy a whole load of copies and give one each to his players and say, ‘Read that’.
“He’s set the targets and goals for Newcastle next season.
“If he says let’s go for the Premier League title but Newcastle fail with that aim then they are in Europe. Some failure that.
“There should never be any talk or thoughts of relegation.
“In the last decade they have been relegated twice. They had players good enough not to go down but I had that feeling that minds weren’t right on both occasions.
“If you fear something you know for sure you are going to face it.
“Walk outside and worry you are going to face a snake and you will. If clubs are frightened of relegation it will happen sooner or later.
“And don’t say fourth bottom will do. It won’t. I watched Chelsea from the beginning of last season and they made it totally clear they were going to win the league.
“I thought if they continue with this attitude it’s going to take them all the way.
“That’s the mentality Rafa is creating. I can understand people outside Newcastle wondering what he is on about?
“In some quarters he will be ridiculed and his critics will file that article away to wave in his face if he gets it wrong.
“For me, it’s a bold manager who is setting out his aims and he’s not going to be satisfied with nothing else but forcing his way into the top six.
“Of course, it’s one hell of a jump but that’s what you have got to do.
“That’s the standard he’s setting. There’s nothing wrong with setting the bar high and really giving it your best shot.
“Rafa hasn’t lost control.
“He’s keeping the thought of relegation out of people’s heads.
“He’s looking at the top six in the Premier League and saying, I’m going to jump in the middle of that and upset a few.
“So good on you, Rafa.”