Rafa Benitez has been speaking in the aftermath of Newcastle’s first pre-season friendly.
A 2-1 win at Hearts with a brace of goals from Dwight Gayle saw United start with a win.
The home side missed a penalty and hit the woodwork, as well as scoring just before Dwight Gayle’s second, but predictably Rafa Benitez was happy with how things had gone, particularly with no apparent injuries.
Hearts are ahead of Newcastle in their preparation and have a cup match on Tuesday, so the United boss was happy to play well and score goals, despite not having the level of fitness they are working towards in a month’s time.
As for flying off to Ireland on Sunday for the training camp, Rafa Benitez says that it is great to have all the squad away together and that it is a massive help in ‘improving the understanding between players’.
No doubt he will be bitterly disappointed that Florian Lejeune is so far the only new face that will get the benefit of this training camp, fingers crossed one or two more can arrive in time to join them in Ireland.
Rafa Benitez talking to NUFC TV:
“I think with the first game of the season, with the team training every day and without the fitness conditioning, it is fine when you play well and score some goals.”
‘Really good first-half, second not so good. Is that inevitable with all the changes that were made?’
“Yes, when you change players and they need time to settle down. Then you stop the game with all the substitutions, so the second-half is always more difficult.
“As you say though, the first-half was good, quite entertaining.”
‘How big do you think it is for Dwight Gayle to get goals early on in pre-season?’
“For all the strikers to score goals, it is key.
“It keeps them happy and working harder. So really good for him and the team, scoring early giving them confidence.
“In the first game of pre-season you are sure to see the team do something right, you are also sure to see them do something wrong – because you need to adjust the team (ahead of the new season).”
‘A debut for Florian Lejeune?’
“I think he was winning some headers which is what we were expecting.
“Then on the ball he is fine, so another good addition.”
‘Players who were out on loan last season, have they got a chance to impress?’
“Yes, we have to see whether players have improved, changed something, or whether they grow as a player.”
‘Biggest positives from this game?’
“The team had composure and we needed to score goals, which we did.”
‘What do you hope to get out of the training camp in Ireland?’
“When you have all the squad away, you have plenty of time to stay together.
“You have training sessions in the morning and the afternoon. Then you have time all together, games or whatever – improve the understanding between players.”
Hearts 1 Newcastle 2
Friday 14 July 7.45pm
Newcastle: Gayle 4, 26
Hearts: Walker 24
Elliot (Woodman 63), Aarons(Gamez 46), Clark (Dummett 46), Mbemba (Hanley 62), Lascelles (Lejeune 46), Haidara (Colback 62), Shelvey (Saivet 46), Diame (Armstrong 62), De Jong (Lazaar 75), Atsu (Perez 46), Gayle (Mitrovic 46)
Crowd: 10,001 (1,468 Newcastle)
Referee: Willie Collum
(To read the match ratings for all Newcastle players v Hearts go HERE)
(To read what Ian Cathro had to say about the game go HERE)
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