Rafa Benitez has been explaining why Mohamed Diame has eventually been left out of the team but I have to say that I am not very convinced by what the Newcastle boss says…
I have every faith in Rafa but just like every other manager, of every other club, he doesn’t always tell the fans the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
The team on Saturday saw Mohamed Diame dropped to the bench and Ayoze Perez take his place, playing behind Dwight Gayle.
This is what Rafa Benitez has had to say when asked about that team selection:
“Players coming back from the internationals are always a problem.
“So if you have players here with you working all week during the international break like Ayoze Perez, it makes it easier for you to prepare for the game.
“We had players coming back Wednesday and Thursday, so it is important that you have players with fresh legs who can come in and make things easier for you.”
You can understand the reasoning about players who have and haven’t been on internationals, especially ones who come back so close to the next game, the only problem being though – this most definitely doesn’t apply in the case of Mohamed Diame.
He only played an hour of international football in this last break and that was a 2-0 win over minnows Cape Verde, the game taking place on Saturday and ironically, Mohamed Diame was interviewed by NUFC’s own official TV channel (full interview below) on Tuesday after training and said:
“I am back to training and I have all week to be ready for the next game. We need to get back and work for this important game at home against Brentford because it is important to stop losing points at home.”
What makes Rafa’s claims for leaving out Mohamed Diame all the less believable is that he chose Christian Atsu to start on Saturday.
Atsu was away with Ghana and played 81 minutes of a 0-0 draw with Uganda on Friday 7 October, then another 83 minutes of a 1-1 draw away in South Africa on Tuesday 11 October. Meaning he wouldn’t have been back at the training ground until the Thursday at the very earliest and realistically, probably only training on the Friday before the Brentford match.
This doesn’t make Rafa Benitez a bad person! It does though mean we shouldn’t always take what he says at face value, quite clearly he ,made the choice of wanting to leave out Mohamed Diame and play Ayoze Perez for other reasons – but with the lack of belief in Diame from many fans, doesn’t want to say he was dropped!
With Gayle and Perez starting on Saturday, it leaves the intriguing possibility of Rafa maybe starting with Diame behind Mitrovic on Tuesday night.
After the last international break, Newcastle had matches in quick succession (Sat/Tues) against Derby and QPR. Rafa made four changes for that 6-0 win at QPR and that included changing Gayle/Diame for a whole different front pairing of Mitrovic/Perez.
In previous interviews the Newcastle boss has made clear that he sees there is more necessity to rotate players further up the pitch rather than the likes of centre-backs who don’t have to put in as much running/energy.
Maybe being taken out of the firing line will do Mohamed Diame the world of good and we will see more of the player who scored 10 from midfield last season for Hull as they were promoted. I must admit it would be especially interesting to see how he would get on playing with Mitrovic, if the two are named in the starting eleven.
Mohamed Diame talking to NUFC TV on Tuesday 11 October:
“I am back to training and I have all week to be ready for the next game. We need to get back and work for this important game at home against Brentford because it is important to stop losing points at home.
“Another tough Championship game, every team who comes to Newcastle think they have nothing to lose, they are going to give it everything – so we need to be prepared and ready.
‘You are on a roll now, two wins from two, so must be full of confidence?’
“Definitely – but it is where we want to be, it’s what we want to do, win game after game, so it’s important to have this good run and I hope we continue that.”
‘You have been a big part of that run and on a personal level, you got 10 goals last season and you must be itching to get your first Newcastle goal?’
“Yes, I’m waiting for this, but I’m working hard for the team and I think that is why I am still in the starting eleven.
“I think I am working hard but now I need to improve offensively and give more for this team.”
‘Still more to come from you?’
“Yes, I think so.
“When Rafa Benitez called me, he called me for more than I am giving at the moment.
“As I say, I am still working hard, that’s why I think I am still in the team, but need to give more offensively.”
‘Is it difficult having so many games in short space of time after international break?’
“We are professionals, we need to adapt.
“I think we all love playing games, better than training, so happy to play every three days. We rest when we have to rest.”