Rafa Benitez emerged from Carrow Road with his team still top of the league, a more attacking emphasis in the second-half paying dividends as Newcastle equalised and could/should have won it.
The United boss is a master at handling the media and as in most things, is a class above the likes of Pardew, Carver and McClaren.
All three of those would happily look for scapegoats when things went wrong but with Rafa Benitez it is always a positive spin.
This isn’t a bad thing by the way, in public it is a major asset when your Manager is always supportive of his players.
However, when reading/hearing what he says, you sometimes have to scrape a little underneath the surface to assess what Rafa really thinks.
Aleksandar Mitrovic missed a host of great chances at Norwich but Rafa Benitez insisted he was happy with the striker and his contribution was ‘quite good’.
At the same time, the United boss can’t really hide his relief at the return of Dwight Gayle, Newcastle’s only natural finisher.
Rafa saying he is a striker ‘who can run and create his own chances and take chances’.
Bottom line is that if Dwight Gayle had been able to start on Tuesday night, Newcastle would have won the match.
Monday night will be interesting, as Rafa Benitez should now have all of his first team squad fit (apart from Anita and Aarons) to choose from, for what is a three points Newcastle very much need.
Dwight Gayle will be playing and Aleksandar Mitrovic back on the bench – Rafa says all the right things in public but is ruthless when it comes down to making the decisions.
As for dealing with the press/fans, Rafa can do and say what he wants because he has the respect of everybody.
“I’m happy with the way he (Mitrovic) was playing (at Norwich),
“His contribution was quite good and Ayoze (Perez) was the same and other players when they came on the pitch, like Diame and Atsu.
“It (return of Dwight Gayle) is important for the team, we needed to have another kind of striker.
“The two players (Mitrovic & Murphy) can hold the ball up or be a target man, Gayle is someone who can run and create his own chances and take chances.
“Mitrovic was doing well, we were a threat in the air and winning second balls, so it wasn’t easy (to take him off).
“With the substitutions – Jack Colback because I wanted to have a more offensive mentality, legs and creativity, but he was doing well too.
“Then Ritchie (replaced) because Atsu can go past players – it wasn’t that they were doing badly, it was because we needed to change something.”
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