Sitcom fan Rafael Benitez has issued his Newcastle troops with a “don’t panic” message as he targets a ‘lovely jubbly’ end to the season.
The Spaniard, who honed the English he had learned initially from Beatles lyrics by watching comedy shows on television after his arrival in this country, has seen the Magpies recover from a difficult start to the campaign during which they faced five of last season’s top six to sit in 14th place ahead of Fulham’s visit to St James’ Park on Saturday.
Just as he was not getting carried away by a run which saw his team go 11 games without a win in all competitions, he is refusing to get too excited about four wins in the last seven, and will continue to employ Dad’s Army character Corporal Jones’ maxim as the season continues.
Benitez said: “We have to stay calm, don’t panic – like Dad’s Army – don’t panic and carry on doing your job because it’s a long, long season.
“I see a lot of sitcoms, which I enjoy. I love the ‘Don’t panic! Don’t panic!’. When I first came, I enjoyed watching Father Ted, Fawlty Towers with the waiter who was supposed to be Spanish, but sounded more Italian. Only Fools and Horses is a big favourite of mine.
“I used to watch My Family, Blackadder, and the Vicar of Dibley, I watched them all. They were great fun. They helped me relax and now I watch them all.
“My English was poor when I first arrived – as it still is – but I used to listen to the Beatles to improve it. I watched the sitcoms for that as well, but I couldn’t always understand the Peckham accent.”
Newcastle will head into the Fulham game having collected 16 points from their first 17 games, and another three this weekend would prove the perfect Christmas gift for Benitez.
He said with a smile: “Normally I give presents to all the staff and they give presents back. They are killing me, because what do they give? Wine – I don’t drink. Or chocolate, and I don’t want to eat more chocolate or ice cream.”