After dispensing with Steve Black’s services, Rafa Benitez has taken on the role himself, of making sure his Newcastle team v Sunderland are mentally in the right place today.

These notes of what he said to each of his players have just been intercepted…

Rob Elliot

“Rob, you started this season as number three but you are now number one, go out there and show it.”

Daryl Janmaat

“Attack attack attack, let somebody else do your defending – stick to what you are good at.”

Steven Taylor

“I have never met such a great Toon Army man, you are indeed Mr Geordie, puff that chest out and do it for Rafa.”

Chancel Mbemba

“Just do your own job and stop Jermain Defoe, then we stop Sunderland. DO NOT look around you at the rest of the defence as it will be like looking down from the ledge of a very tall building when you are scared of heights.”

Jack Colback

“We knew you looked like a mackem and so believe me, when you look in the mirror now at your shaven head, you should only see Geordie beauty.”

Andros Townsend

“I know it is a bit of a culture shock…leaving a normal club and joining one where you actually get a game but you are surrounded by the cast of the Walking Dead. Trust Rafa, I will surround you with the living next season if you do the business.”

Jonjo Shelvey

“You are my main man, the only player in this team that I have bought – lead these knackers to victory.”

Moussa Sissoko

“You will play for a top four team next season Moussa, it will be Newcastle when we survive and rebuild in the summer and today I have every confidence after that brain regression we did back to your home debut v Chelsea and Ashley Cole.”

Gini Wijnaldum

“Remember Gini, this is a home match so you ARE allowed to score.”

Ayoze Perez

‘Viva Espana!!’

Aleksandar Mitrovic 

“Number 45, you are worth five Alan Shearers, your time has come.”