Rafa Benitez made an ‘interesting’ team selection on Wednesday night.
Jonjo Shelvey of course made a welcome return but grabbing maybe even more headlines, was the fact that the United boss chose to give three young players their debuts, whilst leaving most first team regulars on the sidelines.
Findlay, El-Mhanni and Barlaser played for the first time, whilst the likes of Hayden, Murphy & Lascelles were left on the bench, with Karl Darlow and Ciaran Clark given the night off altogether.
Fair to say that the decision was met by Newcastle fans with more disappointment than anticipation at seeing the young players, especially amongst the impressive thirty five thousand crowd that had paid to watch the FA Cup replay.
However, as for anger at the decision, it appeared to be completely absent.
The reality is that the anger of previous seasons hasn’t really been about individual decisions, instead it has been the broken structure that was used to make them, plus the identity of the individuals involved.
A combination of unknown individuals or ‘committees’ making decisions, combined with appointing yes men (Pardew, Carver and McClaren) to provide the public face, was always doomed to failure.
Nothing had ever changed for fans: the knowledge that the most likely chance of success would come from appointing the very best possible Manager and then letting him get on with the job of managing the club and supporting him.
It isn’t rocket science and it is the formula that has brought the only periods of relative success in recent decades for Newcastle supporters.
Fans will always have their own ideas about who should be in the team, who should be bought & sold, and indeed the tactics employed.
However, those are only opinions and when it comes to backing the Manager they will all be United where it counts – if the right person is given the right tools and allowed to get on without unnecessary interference.
Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson were both at St James Park for five years and that is the only type of five year plan we want to hear about now (as opposed to the Ashley/Llambias ones of years gone by).
If Rafa Benitez stays at Newcastle United for five or more years, this club will be in a far far better place at the end of it.