God on the Tyne: How Rafael Benitez is on the verge of equalling Kevin Keegan's 22-year-old record at Newcastle United

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez

One more victory would make it 10 in a row in all competitions for The Magpies.

Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez celebrates after the game

The last time Newcastle United won nine consecutive games in all competitions, everyone in Britain wanted to know all about the ‘Saturday Night’ plans of a one-hit-wonder by the name of Whigfield.

And you’d have got long odds on the prospect that a) it would take Newcastle 22 years to repeat the trick and b) that this most infectious example of Europop would still be oddly relevant today. But that’s the way of the world right now, with Rafael Benitez’s runaway leaders cruising to a 2-0 win at Elland Road in arguably the flagship fixture of this enthralling Championship season.

Carrying on from the previous campaign, Kevin Keegan’s Magpies flew out of the blocks at the start of the 1994/95 season, winning six on the bounce, headlined by a dramatic 3-2 thriller away at Arsenal. These days, however, Newcastle are pilfering their points away at Deepdale and Oakwell rather than Highbury and Upton Park, but this only serves to make their progression under the former Real Madrid manager all the most remarkable.

Just a few short months ago, Newcastle were suffering the humiliation of a second relegation in seven years, confirmed by a win for bitter rivals Sunderland over Everton in the final stretch of the campaign. Now, a team who appeared to discover new ways to lose points and dignity on a weekly basis have reversed the trend.

Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey celebrates with Manager Rafael Benitez and teammates after scoring their second goal

There was the six-goal hammering of Preston, narrow, hard-fought triumphs over Rotherham and Cardiff, and a last-gasp comeback versus Norwich; the hallmark of Champions.

A victory against Blackburn Rovers next time out, a distinctly probable proposition with Owen Coyle’s side entrenched in the relegation zone, would scribe Benitez’s name into the history books as the first manager in the club’s 123 year history to stretch a winning run into double figures.

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez

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