sport news Rafa Benitez finally has something to build on at Newcastle

It makes you wonder what Rafa Benitez could have achieved this season with an owner who listened to him.

Newcastle had to slump to a run of one point in nine matches for Mike Ashley to take notice of his manager’s warning of a second relegation in three seasons. 

Three loan signings arrived in the final week of January and, by the last day of March, Benitez’s side had made themselves as good as safe. 

Newcastle have turned a corner since owner Mike Ashley took notice of Rafa Benitez's warning

Newcastle have turned a corner since owner Mike Ashley took notice of Rafa Benitez's warning

Striker Islam Slimani arrived from Leicester as one of three loan signings which lifted the Toon

Striker Islam Slimani arrived from Leicester as one of three loan signings which lifted the Toon

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Had those players or others in their position been signed in the summer, as Benitez wanted, winter might not have been so bleak.

The Spaniard oversaw the construction of a transfer war-room at the club’s training ground last year. It is separate from the main building on a patch of wasteland, a fitting location given that much of the good work by its inhabitants was in danger of going to waste until the recent additions. 

It looks more like the hut from the Eighties TV comedy classic Auf Wiedersehen Pet than it does the nerve centre of a multi-million pound football club, but the scouting team inside weren't laughing in August when Ashley refused to back them and their boss.

So just to illustrate how much influence the new signings have had, here is how Saturday's game against Huddersfield was won in the 80th minute. 

Striker Islam Slimani - making a belated debut following injury - caused panic at the far post and goalkeeper Jonas Lossl flapped the ball straight to Kenedy - the new Chelsea loanee - who kept his composure and squared for Ayoze Perez to flick home from six yards. 

Then, in injury-time, new goalkeeper Martin Dubravka maintained his record of not having conceded at St James' Park when saving from Scott Malone

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