Get your daily update and weekly newsletter by signing up today!


It’s not a crime to say Rafa Benitez got it wrong

5 years ago

It isn’t being disloyal to say that Rafa Benitez got it badly wrong today.

Yes there were plenty of poor performances from the Newcastle players and individual mistakes – but the Newcastle Manager got it badly wrong from the start.

This doesn’t make him a bad manager, more a very good manager who hasn’t got it right today against Wolves.

Playing Dwight Gayle as a lone striker was once again a negative at St James Park, he was outnumbered and found it tough as he was crowded out whenever the ball went near him.

Playing Mohamed Diame as the main support might work away from home but he just never got into the game today.

The way the team was set up today, meant that once again the plan appears to be to move the ball around the defence and central midfield before Shelvey then launches a 60 yard ball at Ayoze Perez on the left wing. Even if the ball reached the Spaniard he then still has to control and bring it down, by which time a defender is on him anyway.

I just don’t understand why Mitrovic didn’t start with Gayle playing off him, then Shelvey can hit his long balls and the Serbian will win his fair share and we can play from there.

Isaac Hayden fell into the trap as well of hitting Hollywood Stevie G passes instead of carrying the ball, before then we reached a real low as Jamaal Lascelles was attempting the same.

I know we have continued to win whilst making changes every match but it is all subjective as to whether the wins have been achieved because of, or despite of, the rotation.

What I do know/believe is that we have to set up in a more attacking style than we are doing at the moment, two strikers rather than one and a midfielder trying to help out.

Going in one down and lacking ideas at the interval, it was a surprise to see Rafa not shaking things up.

The first 10 minutes saw more of the same and the team crying out for some changes, everybody around me was saying the same thing – make substitutions now, or else we’d end up conceding again.

It was only after it became 2-0 that Rafa Benitez then made his double substitution…too little, too late.

To not then use a third substitute was very change, considering how many players were struggling.

The tactic of having Perez and Dummett on the left means that there is zero pace and little threat from one side of the pitch, leaving it far too predictable that we’ll try to get the ball to Matt Ritchie and the opposition doubling up on him.

Maybe there is a case for questioning whether making changes to the team, seemingly just for the sake of change, is really the way to go after you have just won 6-0. Certainly leaving Mitrovic out up front and bringing in Mbemba at the back didn’t work out.

A lot of issues for Rafa Benitez to think about and I am totally convinced he will sort it – but just like his players, this was a bad day at the office for Newcastle’s manager.

Here are the stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 0 Wolves 2

Goals – 

Wolves:  Mbemba OG 29, Costa 62

Possession was Wolves 32% Newcastle 68%

Total shots were Wolves 12 Newcastle 17

Shots on target were Wolves 5 Newcastle 3

Corners were Wolves 3 Newcastle 5

Team: Sels, Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett, Hayden (Mitrovic 63), Shelvey, Ritchie (Atsu 63), Perez, Diame, Gayle

Unused Subs: Darlow, Colback, Gouffran, Yedlin, Clark

Referee: Tim Robinson

Crowd: 52,117

(To read the instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction to today’s match go HERE)

(To view our interactive player ratings and add your own marks out of 10 for each player,  go HERE)



If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]

Have your say

© 2021 The Mag. All Rights Reserved. Design & Build by Mediaworks