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Steven Taylor: Benítez reminds me of Sir Bobby

Written by Dan King

He's the only man to play for Newcastle under both - and Steven Taylor believes current Magpies boss Rafa Benítez shares many of the legendary Sir Bobby Robson's qualities.

Taylor was still a teenager when he was handed his Magpies debut by Sir Bobby in a UEFA Cup tie against Real Mallorca in March 2004.

He went on to become a key part of United's defence for well over a decade, making 268 appearances and serving several managers including Benítez, who took over in March 2016.

And, although the pair only worked together for a short space of time, Taylor believes there are many similarities between the Spaniard and the son of a coal miner from Langley Park. 

Speaking at the world premiere of Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager, which is out on DVD this week, Taylor told nufc.co.uk: "Keeping big players happy is a gift. Sir Bobby certainly had that and Rafa's got that too.

"There were a lot of players in the squad when I was coming through who would be very angry after training or games at not playing. They'd be in the phone to their agents. Then they'd go into Bobby Robson's office and when they came out, they'd have their arm around him giving him a cuddle!

"That's the kind of guy that he was. You can have as many badges as you want but you need that man-management, and the ability to deal with different personalities of the squad.

"I think that's the biggest thing for managers - dealing with individual players. Everybody's different, everybody needs a bit of loving, and it's how you go about doing that. We had some special nights under Sir Bobby, and the closest thing to him is Rafa now.

"I think it's the way he goes about his business, the way he is around the whole area and the feel good factor around the city now. Everybody loves Rafa and when you see what he's done this year, it's been amazing."

Since leaving United two years ago, Taylor - now 32 - has played for Portland Timbers in the MLS as well as Ipswich Town, and last season he was a virtual ever-present for Peterborough United in League One.

He added: "After every game with Peterborough, I'd put the TV on Sky Sports to see what the results were; the first team I look for is Newcastle, the second one I look for is Sunderland…

"The lads at Peterborough know what I'm all about. We often talk about the good times at Newcastle and Europe, and under Sir Bobby - an absolute legend. We always talk about the old-school days, but I kept a close eye on how they did last season.

"The priority was to avoid relegation and they did that - and towards the end of the season, they finished very strongly."

Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager is now available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray. Visit BobbyRobsonFilm.com for more details

"We had some special nights under Sir Bobby, and the closest thing to him is Rafa now."

Steven Taylor

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