Backroom Staff Reshuffle at Newcastle United

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Newcastle United have undergone a backroom staff reshuffle after announcing the acquisition of Spanish coach Mikel Antia, as the club’s new assistant manager under the new regime led by Rafael Benitez. The news comes after the departure of former assistant Fabio Pecchia, who has left to pursue his own managerial challenge at Italian Serie B side Hellas Verona. Pecchia had joined United in March alongside Benitez, and became a fan favourite for his exuberant goal celebrations on the touchline.

Backroom Staff Reshuffle at Newcastle United

Pecchia was wished good luck and farewell by Benitez, meanwhile the Spaniard wasted no time in appointing a replacement, similarly welcoming Antia to the club.

“I am delighted that Mikel is joining my staff. He is a very talented coach and I know he will add great expertise to my team.

At the same time I am sad to see Fabio depart as he has been an excellent professional from the first day until the last in the years we have worked together.

He leaves to face these new and exciting challenges, both personally and professionally. I wish him all the best and say thank you.” – Rafa Benitez

Antia had previously been tasked with developing young Qatari players at the Aspire Academy in the Middle East, but is reportedly looking forward to reuniting with his former boss, and taking on the challenge of English football.

Benitez and Antia were together as coach and player respectively at Real Madrid‘s academy, and then at Real Valladolid, therefore a common understanding and rapport between the pair will already be established which can only be good news for getting the season’s preparations underway quickly.

As for the rest of Newcastle’s backroom staff, they will remain at the club; Benitez’s duo of Francisco de Míguel Moreno and Antonio Gómez Pérez, will be staying at St. James’ Park with him. The two British representatives of the coaching staff; Ian Cathro and goalkeeping coach Simon Smith will also be retained. Benitez is said to be an admirer of Cathro’s following the Scotsman’s stint in Spain as a first team coach at Valencia and prior to that, at Portuguese side Rio Ave. Benitez likewise seems to be impressed with the work of Simon Smith who has done an excellent job in training and honing the skills of back-up goalkeepers Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow in the light of Tim Krul and Elliot’s two serious injuries during the course of the season.

Benitez enters the Championship with trusted employees at his disposal, with whom he has worked with before. This could be vital in one of the club’s toughest seasons in recent years. Unity off the pitch will be just as important as unity on the pitch, and Benitez and the board will aim to achieve this by creating a sound working atmosphere amongst the backroom staff in order to ensure each member is singing from the same hymn sheet upon the first day of the season on 6th August.


LEICESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 14 : Manager Rafa Benitez of Newcastle during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at the King Power Stadium on March 14 , 2016 in Leicester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)