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Rafa Benitez points out why previous running of Newcastle United was disastrous

5 years ago

Speaking before the Derby County match, Rafa Benitez covered a wide range of issues.

The Newcastle boss giving fans an insight into so much of what happens inside the football club, with the transfer window, international break and first set of games now behind us.

In doing so, Rafa Benitez has inadvertently explained exactly why Newcastle United was such a shambles under Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve McClaren.

When explaining to the media exactly what changing the team, rotating the squad, is actually all about, he got to the heart of why season after season Newcastle had been struggling.

Rafa detailed how it was simply vital to have a squad, to provide competition for first team places, help prevent injuries and ensure you have fresh legs to bring in.

The United manager says ‘If the players in the squad can compete and do well, I am really happy to change players’, all of what he says explaining his transfer activity this summer to give a squad with competition in every position and with far better balance.

Contrast this to past years and it becomes clear just what a different future Rafa Benitez is giving us a glimpse of, whilst at the same time highlighting the disaster of the past.

It was incredible that when Newcastle had that surprise fifth place finish, Mike Ashley only allowed one senior incoming transfer, Vurnon Anita. Money spent then would have created proper competition in the squad and almost certainly kept Newcastle’s momentum rolling, with another top eight finish at a minimum very very likely.

Instead we were left with basically a first eleven and next to no reasonable cover, leading to complacency amongst players due to lack of competition, numberous injuries as players had to play week in week out regardless of fitness – with just a very clearly demotivated squad. Only on the last away day of that 2012/13 season did Newcastle avoid relegation.

Then to compound that, despite almost being relegated Ashley didn’t allow one single player to be bought in during Summer 2013.

We got away with it that season because a small group of quality players such as Cabaye and Remy played out of their skins and we were flying going into the festive period. Only for Cabaye to be sold and not replaced, injuries and lack of form to set in, something which fresh signings/legs would have undoubtedly helped to avoid.

Far too much reliance was put on having a decent first eleven and blindly hoping that bargain additions and young players would come through to take up the slack.

Newcastle avoided relegation on the last day of 2014/15 and then last season completed the job. A severe lack of competition in the squad and far too much reliance on the new signings hitting the ground running and playing every game.

Not excusing his going missing so often but I don’t think any other Premier League club would have done with Gini Wijnaldum what Newcastle did.

A player coming from abroad playing every single Premier League match, he started every match until Rafa Benitez dropped him to the bench a couple of times, though he was still needed then due to the lack of alternatives.

Rafa Benitez:

“It depends on the positions, some players need to be rested because his position is more demanding physically.

“Some players can play more games in a row: so centre-backs can play more game, the wingers have more problems, the strikers they have more problems, so…

“It also depends on the competition, so if the players in the squad can compete and do well, I am really happy to change players.

“So I am not thinking we need to rotate, or we have to rotate, because it is an idea that I wake up in the morning and say we have to rotate.

“No, it is because it is important to keep the competition between players, we know it is important to keep them as fit as possible, to prevent injuries and to have fresh legs.

“We have a lot of games and not much time, so it is important to have the squad – the players have to understand it is this way as well.”


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