Spanish fitness experts visit Magpies’ training ground20170310-javier-minana-and-jose-angel-garcia

Rafa Benitez welcomed some esteemed visitors to Newcastle United’s Benton training centre this week.

Spanish fitness coaches Javier Miñano and Jose Angel Garcia dropped by United’s base to observe Benitez and his team’s preparations for this weekend’s Sky Bet Championship clash with Fulham on Saturday, as well as impart some of the knowledge they’ve gleaned from their successful careers in the game.

High-respected Miñano was a fitness coach with the Spain national team under Vincent Del Bosque when they won the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 – an achievement sandwiched by two European Championship victories in 2008 and 2012.

And Garcia spent 14 years as a fitness coach at Atletico Madrid, where he won a La Liga and Copa del Rey double at the end of the 1995/96 campaign.



Both Miñano and Garcia watched the Magpies train on Friday morning ahead of the visit of the Cottagers, and they are due to remain on Tyneside until early next week.

“This is the first time I have visited the training ground, although I have been to St. James’ Park,” said Miñano, who now teaches at the Instituto Nacional de Educación Física in Madrid, where Garcia is the director of the MA in fitness coaching.

“This was a great opportunity for us to touch base with Rafa, with his ways of working, and really to see first-hand the success of his project here.”

The duo were able to share their ideas with Benitez and the Magpies’ fitness coach Paco de Miguel, and have had the opportunity to take it some the methods already in place at the club – which Garcia describes as “top notch”.

“I’m very interested in things like injury prevention and all the rest of the issues that come with fitness coaching. We’re very interested in the different models of fitness coaching and the fundamentals of that,” he said. “For us, the model of work that Rafa and Paco have here is top notch – it is an example, and an extraordinary model.

“This is very much a family club, with installations that are simple and clear, where the resources are put to use to tremendous effect. For us, it is remarkable how committed the players are to the methods of coaching here. It is very clear that they are paying attention, they are concentrated on the exercises, and there is no distraction for them.”

Garcia – who is also the President of the Spanish Fitness Coaches Association and a board member of the Real Federación de Fútbol de Madrid met Benitez when the current United boss studied at INEF.

“We have been following Rafa’s trajectory since then with much admiration,” he said. “He is someone who has given a lot to football, and he is someone who knows the importance of and has put a lot of emphasis on fitness coaching.”

For both Garcia and Miñano, this week has also provided an opportunity to sample the culture of English football.

“I remember while working with Radomir Antic how he always used to mention to me the English culture, the English way of training and doing things in professional football, with a lot of admiration,” said Garcia, who worked with Antic, a former Luton Town player and Real Madrid and Barcelona manager, at Atletico. “For me, it’s very important to see this in person through Rafa and his group of coaches to contrast those ideas, that conception of the English game with what Rafa is implementing here.

“We were lucky to be invited to watch the preparations for the game against Fulham tomorrow. We’re very much looking forward to seeing how tomorrow goes, as there has been a lot of good preparation for tomorrow’s game.”

And for Miñano, who made the move from the development squad at Atletico Madrid to Benitez’s development squad at Real Madrid back in 1992, it was a chance to see how his former colleague and his staff were going about their task of keeping the Magpies ahead of the chasing pack in the Championship.

“We are very thankful to have had the chance to witness the very meticulous preparations that take place here at Newcastle United with Rafa and his team – how they are analysing and working on their strengths, and how they are analysing the strengths of Fulham tomorrow, how to tackle them, and seeing the players putting that into practice,” said Miñano. “It’s fantastic to see.”