There are often decisions to make in life where the more you look at something there is no obvious right way to go, Rafa Benitez has one of those choices to make now.
People have talked about rotation this season at Newcastle United but in truth it is a bit wide of the mark.
The United boss has very rarely rotated his players and fully made use of his squad.
Instead we have seen a small number of position where Rafa Benitez doesn’t see much difference between the competing players he has at his disposal.
The two main one have been Anita & Yedlin at right-back and Diame & Perez behind the main striker.
Pretty much, the rest of the team has picked itself.
Saturday at 2pm we will see Rafa’s line-up against Bristol City but which way will he go?
A visiting team that are really struggling (2 wins in 18), missing their best player (21 goal Tammy Abraham) and very low on confidence (2 points/1 place above drop zone, manager under threat of sack, team booed off at half-time and full-time when losing at home to Fulham in midweek).
Bristol City SHOULD be a game Newcastle win whatever team Rafa Benitez puts out BUT the home defeat to Blackburn when the United boss saved a number of key players for Hull in the League Cup quarter-final, massively contributed to a 1-0 loss at St James Park.
Is it a case of Rafa putting his best eleven on the pitch against Bristol City, or looking to already prepare for the toughest match of the season away to Brighton on Tuesday night.
Newcastle objected to the timing of this rearranged game but were overruled, so what is the best approach?
Personally, I think going with Newcastle’s best eleven against Bristol City is the only way to do it, then all being well, if Newcastle are a few goals up I would then look to take off the likes of Shelvey and Ritchie (one more booking before 12 March and he gets a one game suspension) to save them for Brighton.
Maybe this is the ultimate example of where you should use the ‘one game at a time’ mentality, Newcastle totally ignoring how Saturday’s team selection might then impact on the one for Brighton, with the only immediate aim being three points by 5pm on Saturday.
What I don’t this is in any doubt, is that by the final whistle on Tuesday night at Reading, these next four matches will have seen Rafa Benitez feeling the full benefit of the squad he assembled back in July/August last year, with hopefully every player selected busting a gut to impress for the rest of the season and looking ahead to potentially hoping to play for the Magpies back in the Premier League.
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