Rafael Benitez is back for his third stint as a Premier League manager, having agreed to take charge of Newcastle’s bid for survival, as successor to the sacked Steve McClaren.
The Spaniard, who has a clause in his three-year contract allowing him to walk away should the Magpies be relegated, has a baptism of fire, with a trip to league-leading Leicester on Monday night.
However, the former Liverpool manager has a long-standing history with picking up points in his first match at a club, stretching all the way back to his days as Valencia boss in 2001.
For his Los Che bow, Benitez took on a similarly daunting opponent in Real Madrid, but secured a 1-0 victory over a Los Blancos XI containing Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and Raul, thanks to Miguel Angulo’s solitary strike.
Three years later Benitez became the Reds’ head honcho and ingratiated himself to the fans with a 2-0 victory over Grazer AK in the Champions League qualifying stages, before drawing 1-1 in his top-flight debut against Tottenham.
His first game as Inter Milan manager came against Roma, who were dispatched 3-1, while a 0-0 draw earned him his first Chelsea point on debut, at the hands of Manchester City.
For his next two jobs, the 55-year-old had it much easier. With Napoli, the fixture gods handed him a game against Bologna to start his tenure and he duly delivered a 3-0 win.
However, it was his Real Madrid entrance that was the most disappointing, only managing a goalless draw with Sporting Gijon in a sign that things were never quite going to go to plan.
Nevertheless, that’s a record of six games as a new manager at a club, four wins, two draws and, importantly for Newcastle, no losses.
Incidentally, Roma’s boss when Benitez introduced himself to Inter with victory was now-Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who the Spaniard has beaten once and lost to once in his two meetings with.
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