Saturday teatime told us a lot of things about Newcastle United.
A win that made it five wins on the bounce and four clean sheets in a row, tells us that the team are clearly responding to Rafa Benitez’ training pitch inspiration.
However, the win over Derby County must have also had almost every other Championship team wondering just how Newcastle United can fail to get promotion, with or without a manager of Rafa’s calibre.
The story of Newcastle’s win, was just as much about the players who weren’t playing, as it was about those who were in the starting eleven.
This is how the team lined up:
Team: Sels, Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett, Colback, Shelvey, Gouffran, Ritchie, Diame, Gayle
Rafa pulled off this win despite having 13 full internationals on the club’s books who weren’t involved in his starting team:
Ciaran Clark (Ireland)
Achraf Lazaar (Morocco)
Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia)
DeAndre Yedlin (USA)
Grant Hanley (Scotland)
Christian Atsu (Ghana)
Daryl Murphy (Ireland)
Cheick Tiote (Ivory Coast)
Rob Elliot (Ireland)
Tim Krul (Holland)
Siem de Jong (Holland)
Henri Saivet (Senegal)
Haris Vuckic (Slovenia)
The last four of those named have of course been sent out on loan and this further emphasises the relative riches Newcastle can call on, able to let name players such as de Jong (Have a look at his classy 30 yard free-kick goal from the weekend here) and Krul leave for the season.
Being an international player doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality but it is a pretty good guide.
Of those listed above, the first seven were all away with their international teams last week and yet weren’t needed by Rafa Benitez in his starting eleven to see off Derby County. I wonder what Burton Albion make of that?
Just how many of these current Newcastle players are good enough to also play in the Premier League is something we will hopefully be finding out this time next year – but in the meantime it is clear that Rafa Benitez has accumulated a squad that should be far too powerful for this division.
You have fans/media making lazy pre-season comments wondering how much Newcastle’s star players will fancy it on a cold and windy Tuesday night in January?
Maybe instead they should be asking themselves just how the opposition teams will fancy playing Newcastle United on that cold and windy Tuesday night, with Rafa Benitez having the luxury of playing a whole different fresh team full of internationals – whilst the opposition will be forced to play the same key players who they relied on the previous weekend.