Like most modern managers, Rafa Benitez draws heavily on statistical data, but just as it is the sound of a player kicking a ball that tells him whether their technique is sound, it is not numbers on a screen that tell him whether he wants to sign a player or not.
“When I was 13 years old I used to keep notes on all my teammates,” Benitez adds. “I still have the books.
“At 13, I went to Real Madrid and started taking notes. I was giving points and marks to our players after every game, writing down the top scorers. I still have everything. When I was 16, I was coach in the summer and a player. When I was at university at 17, 18, I was player, coach, manager.
“I used to put all the training sessions on to a computer, a Commodore 64, I didn’t play games on it, I put information on there. It was very basic, but at this time I was using computers when nobody was using computers.
“What I learned is that you have to be careful with computers. They give too much information. You need to be sure you have the right information and at the same time, one thing I don’t want to do - and it’s a key thing - is lose the feeling.
“I know how you feel when you make a mistake. Like a lot of professionals, I can hear when you are kicking the ball properly or not (he smacks his hands together), just by the sound.
“I like to see players. We see the players and know if they are good or bad. You can’t say I don’t want the information, you need the data, but there is more.
“When I joined Newcastle, I asked for all the data about players in the Championship, so I have the best stats in the Championships and I was watching players and talking to people and saying ‘what do you know about this player’. That human part is crucial.
“You can watch a player and have a feeling and after you can see the stats. That is fine, but it’s not just the stats. You have to watch the players.”
Newcastle have a manager who only wants the best for the team, but they have an owner who does not seem to understand why that matters. The relationship between the two most powerful men at St James’ Park remains strained and until is it is healed, Benitez’s future will remain a cause for con