Newcastle great, Rob Lee, has surveyed the situation Rafa Benitez faces at St James Park and sees only one route to follow.
The one-time winger/midfielder says that the United boss must attack, attack, attack, as the defence is so bad.
A big part of Rafa Benitez’ reputation has been built on organising a solid defence and then sorting the attacking play from there.
However, Rob Lee says that with the players he has been landed with, Benitez can only get a certain amount of improvement – especially with so little time to play with.
Lee says that whilst the attacking options aren’t brilliant, Newcastle have to go for goals and Mitrovic and Wijnaldum are pretty much the sum total of United’s attacking threat, although to be fair Ayoze Perez also has six goals so far.
Elsewhere in the team scoring options are at a premium, though Townsend has looked a threat at times and there is a need to get Jonjo Shelvey further forward – he has a good long-range shooting ability as well as the capacity to create chances.
As well as Villa, both Watford and West Brom have scored less goals than Newcastle, they each have 30 goals compared to United’s 31, though to sum up Rafa’s defensive problems, those two clubs have conceded 22 and 21 goals less respectively than Newcastle.
An incredibly difficult situation for Rafa Benitez to manager but hopefully like the rest of us on Saturday afternoon he’ll be chanting ‘attack, attack…attack, attack, attack’.
Rob Lee speaking to the Chronicle:
“At the back, United are all over the place at times – and, as much as Benitez tries, I don’t think he’s going to be able to make them much more solid defensively before the end of the campaign.
“The Magpies are better going forward than they are defensively, except that final part of actually putting the ball in the back of the net, of course.
“Take Aleksandar Mitrovic and an in-form Georginio Wijnaldum out of the equation, and then you’re struggling with the current crop of Magpies.
“If they go a goal down, are they going to be able to get back into it?
“Rafa is a proven manager but this is a huge job to come back from. I can’t see any way he will stay if Newcastle go down, I just hope he can turn around the club’s fortunes before then.
“In order to do so, United’s bid for survival has to be built on attack. Defensively, they just aren’t good enough.”