A busy day on Saturday for Christian Atsu, the winger making his first start for Newcastle, scoring his first goal and emerging as man of the match.
Summing up what the Ghanaian international can bring to the party, Rafa Benitez said he is ‘A player who can beat players and make a difference’.
Getting their first proper look at the player, Newcastle fans were impressed by the winger’s electric pace and dribbling ability, Christian Atsu easily United’s biggest threat against Rotherham as he came in for Matt Ritchie.
A dual threat of Atsu and Ritchie is an enticing thought and the manager said that the winger’s contribution was no less than he was expecting.
In the coming fixtures, Rafa Benitez has set his team two targets: to keep on picking up clean sheets and for players like Atsu to bring the added quality at the other end of the pitch.
“I think it was a great win against a team (Rotherham) that was pushing from the beginning.
“We needed to try to keep the ball, then to play counter-attack when we couldn’t keep the ball. It was difficult but a great performance after a great game (win over Norwich), to react and to work as hard as they were, another clean sheet – a lot of positives.
“We had some chances and could have scored more goals but they were pushing and were dangerous.”
‘What did you make of Christian Atsu’s performance?’
“He was great.
“A great goal (watch it HERE) and some good situations one on one that we were looking for.
“A good chance in the second half when he could have scored a second goal.
“It was what we were expecting from him, a player who can beat players and make a difference.
“All the players put me in a position (when picking the next team) where I have to analyse in training sessions – it means we can compete with a strong squad.
“With the quality we have up front, if we keep clean sheets we will win a lot of games. The main thing is to keep the same mentality, the team working hard, then after we have players like Christian Atsu today, who can score and make the difference.”