Rafa Benitez says that it isn’t only injuries that are a problem for him as he approaches game number five of Newcastle United’s Championship campaign.
Despite nine signings so far coming in and 15 players heading out permanently or on loan, the Newcastle boss says that the squad still hasn’t got the right balance and isn’t numerically strong enough.
Of course there are a lot of players in the Newcastle squad but clearly Rafa Benitez is talking about players that he wants, not those that he is currently stuck with.
More immediately, Rafa thinks that Brighton are going to be a very strong contender this season, especially with Chris Hughton having the Championship experience and a squad that proved last year it was good enough to fight it out at the top.
Reflecting on his current position and what Chris Hughton was faced with back in 2009, interesting to see Rafa Benitez’ comments.
Rafa claims that it is harder now anyway with the Championship being stronger, in his opinion. Then at the same time he states that he believes that Chris Hughton was lucky back in that Newcastle promotion season to have ‘a very, very good team, players with character and yong players, so he had a very good mix’.
I contrast to Rafa’s wholesale changes, Chris Hughton wasn’t allowed to spend a penny by Mike Ashley back in summer 2009 and instead watched a procession of dubious characters jump ship, Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins leading the deserters.
Rafa Benitez talking pre-Brighton:
“It will be difficult, for sure, because still we don’t have the squad ready in terms of the number of players we want and the balance that we want.
“It could be more difficult, and we were talking about the injuries, but I still have confidence that the team is strong enough to beat everyone.
“It will be tough – they (Brighton) have experience, they have a manager who knows the city, the players, the Championship – so it will be tough. But can we beat them? Yes.
“I think that there are a lot of good teams around that can do well. They (Brighton) are the most difficult now because it’s the next game, but as I said before, they have a manager with experience. He knows us, he knows the city, he knows the fans and he knows the Championship. It will be very difficult.
“I think Chris Hughton did a great job (at Newcastle), but also it was different. He had a very, very good team, players with experience and character and young players, so he had a very good mix.
“The Championship I think now is even stronger, and you see the money that everybody is spending, so I think it’s a good experience and I know that he did really well. But this Championship is totally different.
“When you have someone that has given everything and has been successful, why not show him that respect?
“I think it’s important to understand that we are professionals and we want to do the best for our clubs, but if you do well and especially win promotion, I think that the fans want to support him.”