When the final whistle blew on Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t help but smile.
Yes I was of course happy with another three points and some pretty good football, particularly in the first half…but I also had Alan Pardew popping into my head.
Thankfully this doesn’t happen too often (Alan Pardew popping into my head, not Newcastle winning…thankfully) but yesterday’s win over Brentford definitely had the silver fox back in my thoughts.
Imagine if back in the day, Newcastle were 3-1 up at home against opposition who were looking well beaten and Alan Pardew made three defensive substitutions and ended up with four full-backs on the pitch!
With Newcastle fans wanting the team to go for the jugular and Mitrovic to be sent up top alongside Gayle, instead Rafa Benitez replaces the two wingers with full-backs and brings on a centre-back.
One amusing aside was that the teenagers next to me got all excited with the final substitution but then were puzzled by Aleksandar Mitrovic going to play left wing, belatedly realising it was Achraf Lazaar and not the Serbian who had replaced Yoan Gouffran. They do have a passing resemblance, or at least they do when you are looking from level 7…
The difference is that the Newcastle fans believe in Rafa Benitez and even when they would have chosen a different route, they accept the manager’s pragmatism and safety first (and energy conserving?) approach.
Alan Pardew of course was a different case, with supporters rarely, if ever, buying into his ‘tactics’ and substitutions, the now Palace boss having a particular fetish for often having as many left-backs on the pitch as possible.
Newcastle United, Rafa Benitez, and the fans, roll on. Believing in what the manager is trying to do is a key component to have any chance of success.
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 3 Brentford 1
Newcastle: Clark 11, Gayle 16,49
Brentford: Hogan 52
Possession was Brentford 48 % Newcastle 52%
Total shots were Brentford 7 Newcastle 15
Shots on target were Brentford 2 Newcastle 6
Corners were Brentford 5 Newcastle 5
Newcastle starting 11:
Darlow, Anita, Clark, Lascelles (Hanley 60), Dummett, Atsu (Yedlin 72), Gouffran (Lazaar 84), Colback, Shelvey, Perez, Gayle
Sels, Hayden, Mitrovic, Diame
Referee: Simon Hooper
(To view the fan player ratings and to add your own in our interactive system go HERE)
(To read the instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction go HERE)
(Go HERE for the views of Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith on the 3-1 defeat)