As many/most Newcastle fans wait ever hopefully for a Gayle and Mitrovic partnership up front, Yoan Gouffran believes that Rafa’s tactics have helped to give him more freedom.
The United boss has repeatedly said that he plays an extra midfielder so that his players can hopefully control the game better and now on an eight match winning run you would find it difficult to argue against that.
Whilst most of the time Yoan Gouffran is tied to the left hand side as a winger/wide midfielder, the extra midfielder means that he can at times come inside and ‘play my game’.
Saturday’s winning goal (watch it HERE) against Cardiff saw the Frenchman crop up on the righthand side of the box and convert DeAndre Yedlin’s excellent assist. A third decisive goal after previous ones against Derby and Norwich, as well as one in the League Cup against Wolves.
With 12 different goalscorers already this season, it does appear that playing a fifth midfielder or second striker does open up opportunities for others.
Whether playing with two out and out forwards would be more productive is something we are unlikely to find out, the question being if the extra goals the strike partners might bring would compensate for less goals from other areas?
Rafa Benitez has shown that his tried and tested current tactics are working week in week out, so if it’s not broken…
“I am happy and I’m enjoying playing with my teammates this year, this season it is really different, because I’m playing with confidence and I hope that can continue.
“Maybe (Rafa’s system) has helped me, sometimes I can get free and I can play my game, but the tactics are the choice of the manager.
“When we play at home, in front our own fans, we want to show that we will give everything.
“In the first 15 to 20 minutes, maybe we play high and try to press the other team. Scoring early can help you to win the game.
“Today, we started well. We scored two goals and after the first-half, the manager said we had to score a third to be safe, but it was hard.
“Cardiff played long balls and they scored – in the end it was a tough game.
“We have to take care of our bodies, some players will join their national teams and I hope they come back fit.
“After that we will see what happens, we have to keep looking forward but it is not finished.
“The Championship is very long and we want to win every week.”
(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 2 Cardiff 1 go here)
(Neil Warnock blames match officials for defeat, read what he had to say here)