Rafa Benitez was more than happy to bank his seventh point from a possible nine, in a period of three away games against teams at the top, that had threatened to blow the automatic promotion places wide open.

Instead, Newcastle United have emerged three points clear at the top (and a superior goal difference – 11 better off than Brighton and a massive 33 goals advantage over David Wagner’s team) and nine points ahead of third, though Huddersfield have a game in hand.

Looking back at a mad seven day stretch of games away from home, the United boss said ‘Before these three games, to think of getting seven points – you have to be satisfied.’

Asked what he thought about Newcastle’s first goalless draw of this league season at the 36th attempt, Rafa Benitez admitted he hadn’t realised that was the case and it was an ‘interesting’ stat.

Also interesting for us that a Manager who is so meticulous about his planning and strategy hadn’t realised!

In a full year of matches (Saturday against Fulham comes exactly 365 days after he was unveiled as Newcastle Manager), there has been only one other 0-0 draw, that being the game at Villa Park last season. Although the League Cup quarter-final at Hull was also goalless at 90 minutes, then 1-1 in extra-time before penalties.

Described often as cautious/negative manager, interesting to see how few goalless draws have featured under him at Newcastle and the fact NUFC have scored a massive 100 goals in this full year under the current boss (see all Rafa’s Newcastle 365 days of stats HERE).

Despite Newcastle having only 70% of the possession on Tuesday night, Rafa Benitez says that this was all part of the plan.

Saying he was confident his players would get plenty of chances through this strategy and so it proved, Newcastle having 13 attempts at goal to the six (BBC Sport reported it as eight for Reading) of Reading, whilst they also restricted the home side to only strike on target with Newcastle having five.

Rafa Benitez talking to NUFC TV:

‘Your first nil-nil draw of the season, are you fairly satisfied?’

“I didn’t realise, that is interesting.

“Before these three games, to think of getting seven points – you have to be satisfied.

“This game against a good team (like Reading), the pitch was not the best but we had a lot of good chances.

“It’s a pity – maybe a lot of people say they would take a draw beforehand but we had so many clear cut chances in that first half, then though we could have lost it in the last minute when the ball clipped the crossbar.

“I’m happy though because the players did everything I asked and also happy for the fans because they go home with another point.”

‘You brought Christian Atsu and Dwight Gayle on towards the end, clearly thought you could maybe get three points?’

“We knew that had the possession but they were high and it was a question of finding the right ball, play behind the defence and maybe a one v one situation – still we had opportunities.”

‘Like at Huddersfield, were you happy to let reading have far more of the ball?’

“Yes, I think they (Reading) had six attempts and we had 13 – we had two on target in the first half and four in he second.

“I was quite happy giving them the ball because we could still create clear chances.”

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  • Geordiegiants

    I wonder what happened to all of the people from a few month ago, that were on here bleating on about how we would never go up if we didn’t sign anyone.
    I am not insinuating we are promoted yet, but they have all quickly shut up, and where have all the people gone that have been criticizing rafa and his tactics? Again im not saying we are defo going up, but we are looking strong, We had a little bit of a bad run, and all of the village idiots were out in force shouting on about how poor his tactics are, his signings are, how strong Brighton were etc etc. Its easy to have a go when the chips are down, but its even better to smile in the face of adversity.
    IN RAFA I HAVE ALWAYS TRUSTED.

    • Wor Lass

      Seeing as your profile only goes back 6 days, you could even be one of them!

      • Geordiegiants

        Seeing as this platform only came about six days ago on the mag it’s no surprise is it?
        I take it you are one of them!

        • Wor Lass

          Funnily enough, my comments on this forum go back 3 years – all with the moniker “Wor Lass” and with the same avatar. When youve got an hour or three to spare you could browse through them and see that I like to be positive and support the manager and the players wherever possible. I don`t think you`ll find any of my Mag comments being critical of Rafa – the nearest to it being my mystification as to why Mbemba hasn`t featured.

          • Geordiegiants

            Honestly!!! Your point being, from the start? This discus came about last week, I was posting as Geordiegiants on The livefire platform for a while. I don’t need to justify my self to you, but I don’t know the first thing about all this stuff and I’m not on Facefuck or twatful. Again the point I’m getting at, is where are the so called fans that where on Rafas back over crimbo, if you weren’t one of them what was the need for your attack without substance?

          • Wor Lass

            Honestly! Disqus was the platform on the Chronicle site before they went to the Trinity Mirror format and completely killed it off. As “attacks” go, what I said was pretty mild and actually tongue-in-cheek. There are a few people on here who use multiple accounts to post as different people and others who regularly change their moniker so they can shift their position on players, managers or whatever. I agreed with the point you made but just wondered if you were one of those people reinventing themselves. Apologies if I`ve got it wrong!

          • Geordiegiants

            Apology accepted. ?

  • HappyToons

    Rafa is a brilliant tactical manager who would even get Jossy’s Giants in the top 6. Now we have played the top form teams Brighton, Huddersfield, Reading away… it doesn’t get easier as Fulham, Sheff Wed, Leeds, Cardiff, Preston are all in top form. I would have taken 5 points from the last 3 away games-a win and 2 draws (even 3 away draws would be decent against the top 3), so let us hope our form continues in the home games!

  • Rich Lawson

    Just goes to show that as he says he just thinks about the next game,what happened before is done and he learns from it,never cries or moans .