Rafael Benitez has revealed he has already had more meetings in one week with Dalian Yifang than he did during three years at Newcastle United.
Benitez left Premier League club Newcastle at the end of June when his contract expired and took the surprise decision to continue his coaching career in the Chinese Super League. After just seven days in the new job, Benitez already feels more valued behind the scenes as he is in regular dialogue with Dalian's hierarchy — something that was not the case with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley.
"Since the moment of our arrival we have really been touched by the kindness and respect that we have been shown," the Spaniard wrote in a blog post on his personal website.
'Signs of respect'
"Our hosts have treated us with great consideration and are always keen to make us happy. As we all know from experience, in football, just as in everyday life, when people show you respect and affection and do everything they can to make things easier for you, life is much happier, even when you face difficult moments.
"I must say that I have had more meetings with the chairman, the president and the general manager this week than I had in three years at Newcastle. They haven't just been work meetings, rather signs of respect in which we have been able to appreciate the differences and similarities in our cultures."
'Experience like no other'
Benitez got his reign off to a positive start on the field with a 3-1 win over Henan Jianye on Sunday. And the former Liverpool, Inter and Real Madrid boss is enjoying the challenge that comes with coaching in another country.
"We've hardly been in China for a week and I have seen and experienced so much for the first time, it could easily have already been a month," he continued.
"My coaching team and I have visited so many countries in the past and we've worked for years in Spain, Italy and England. But this experience is like no other. Before leading a training session or managing a match I have found some challenges that I haven't experienced in the other countries where I have worked or visited.
"Most of the players and the people around you don't understand anything you say and vice versa, so you need a translator by your side at all times, even to transmit the smallest correction in training. And it's not just me, but all my assistants need translators too, so at times as I have joked with my friends from the media in Newcastle, it can seem like a scene from the Marx Brothers with so many people around!"