From the outside, the desire to bring in another goalkeeper looked like a curious sub-plot of the summer. With a full international, an under-20 international tipped for great things and a former Holland international, Rafa looked pretty well stocked.
But Benitez is a believer that the man in between the sticks has one of the most important jobs on the pitch.
It’s not just about the saves, blocks and crosses claimed for the Newcastle manager, it is about the authority that the goalkeeper has both on and off-the-field.
To him, Pepe Reina is the perfect goalkeeper: a leader of men who sorts out the dressing room while also exuding the sort of calm on the pitch that improves his defence. That’s why Benitez wanted to upgrade in this department.
He likes and trusts Rob Elliot and there is a bond between the two men but the Republic of Ireland international has played less than 50 games in the top flight. Benitez desperately wanted someone to keep the heat on him who had played more and had experience.
Bringing in that player would have set off a domino effect which would have forced Tim Krul out sooner and allowed Freddie Woodman to play regularly on loan somewhere. As it is, Benitez is dealing with an ambitious young goalkeeper whose contract is nearing an end and wants to play, while Karl Darlow is fully aware of the doubts that the manager possesses about him.
Even in a squad that is mostly stocked with good characters and has a decent chemistry, retaining the sharpness and morale of players who are not playing is hard.
Woodman will play under-23 football and may join in the Checkatrade Trophy later in the season. But keeping all three onside will be tough.