Rafael Benitez has revealed he’s already had more meetings with members of the Dalian Yifang hierarchy than he did during his entire three-year spell with Newcastle United.
The Spaniard ended his stint with the Magpies in June following the expiry of his contract, drawing large amounts of anger from fans towards Newcastle chairman Mike Ashley.
Benitez has taken up a new challenge in the Chinese Super League and has now suggested he already feels more valued than he did at St. James’ Park, thanks to the level of communication between himself and the club’s hierarchy.
“Since the moment of our arrival we have really been touched by the kindness and respect that we have been shown,” the Spaniard wrote in a blog post on his personal website.
“As we all know from experience, in football, just as in everyday life, when people show you respect and affection and do everything they can to make things easier for you, life is much happier, even when you face difficult moments.
“I must say that I have had more meetings with the chairman, the president and the general manager this week than I had in three years at Newcastle.
“They haven’t just been work meetings, rather signs of respect in which we have been able to appreciate the differences and similarities in our cultures.”
Benitez also opened up on the cultural differences he has faced so far, having found even the smallest tasks challenging after only previously experiencing managerial life in Europe.
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Nevertheless, the ex-Liverpool boss admitted he has enjoyed the test so far.
“We’ve hardly been in China for a week and I have seen and experienced so much for the first time, it could easily have already been a month,” he continued.
“My coaching team and I have visited so many countries in the past and we’ve worked for years in Spain, Italy and England. But this experience is like no other.
“Before leading a training session or managing a match I have found some challenges that I haven’t experienced in the other countries where I have worked or visited.
“Most of the players and the people around you don’t understand anything you say and vice versa, so you need a translator by your side at all times, even to transmit the smallest correction in training.”
Benitez at Newcastle: Five key things to know…
- Benitez was appointed as Newcastle manager in March 2016 but couldn’t stave off relegation.
- However, the Magpies won the Championship title at the first attempt.
- Following promotion, Benitez guided Newcastle to 10th and 13th place in the Premier League.
- He also broke the club’s transfer record during that time, signing Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United.
- But Benitez left the club in June following the breakdown of contract talks with Ashley.