After watching his side bounce back against Wolves on Tuesday night, Rafa Benitez felt it was all ‘very positive’ after he ‘gave an opportunity to different players’.
Daryl Murphy did very well as the main striker on his debut and all that was missing was a goal, whilst the other debutant Achraf Lazaar had a mixture of the good and bad and it is clear why Rafa is easing him into English football.
Yedlin was excellent as he made his first start after some promising sub appearances, whilst the Clark/Hanley centre-back partnership had its first viewing and they came through it with a clean sheet and just a couple of scares.
The only three to keep their places from Saturday all improved on that Championship defeat, Ritchie arguably man of the match whilst Shelvey was much better and Diame the same, to a lesser extent.
Competing with Ritchie for man of the match status was Yoan Gouffran, Ritchie both scored a great goal and produced an excellent run and cross for the Frenchman’s strike – but what an effort from Gouffran – a blistering volley into the top corner.
Rafa Benitez returning to his belief on work ethic is everything, praising Yoan Gouffran for working hard even when he was totally out of favour, the player now reaping the rewards (check out this season’s Gouffran match stats HERE) from that according to the manager.
It is an interesting conundrum for Rafa, last night was obviously a much improved performance from Saturday but with eight changes of their own, Wolves were obviously a much weakened team.
So who should play against Aston Villa? Which players should be given the chance to bounce back from Saturday’s Championship match and who deserves the opportunity to build on taking their chances on Tuesday night?
“An opportunity for some players to play who were not playing, alongside players who have been playing some games.
“This balance was giving a little bit of match fitness and also the desire of the players to show their level, so this mix of players, I think, was good in the end.”
“It’s important for us and for the players also, to feel that the competition has to be good for everyone.
“So they have to go out on the pitch and try to do their best, it doesn’t matter the competition, it doesn’t matter the game, and it doesn’t matter the position.
“That is a key factor if we want to be strong and to manage the number of games we will play this year.
“Obviously we wanted to win and we did.
“It was a game in which we changed players, we gave an opportunity to different players and we had to win and go through, we did it with two great goals and a clean sheet, so it is all very positive.
“I’m always happy when any player plays well, but in this case, Gouffran has been working very hard from the beginning.
“He didn’t know what would happen in the future but he was still working hard.
“ I’m really pleased for him and he is scoring great goals now, especially from volleys, so that is good.”
(To read the instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction to the win over Wolves go HERE)
(To view our interactive player ratings and to add your own go HERE)