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A year to the day Rafa Benitez selected these 18 players for his first Newcastle match – It explains a lot

5 years ago

Saturday’s game with Fulham marked 365 days since Rafa Benitez took over at Newcastle United.

Today (Tuesday 14 March) sees the one year anniversary of Rafa’s first match, a 1-0 defeat at Leicester thanks to a goal from Okazaki.

Plenty has happened at Newcastle United in this intervening 12 months, though not sure if much has occurred at Leicester…

As Leicester fans prepare for one of the biggest matches of their lives (second leg v Sevilla for a place in last eight of Champions League) not many of them are probably pondering on that Newcastle match 12 months ago, which proved just another step towards their remarkable title win.

However, for Newcastle fans looking back on that night in Leicester, it tells us plenty about the job Rafa Benitez was faced with at St James Park.

No doubt he was guided by people (Ian Cathro) still at NUFC when it came to his team selection in his first game in charge but these were the 18 he chose to start the game and to be subs v Leicester.

The current status of each player in brackets.

Starting 11 v Leicester – 14 March 2016

Elliot (On the bench/Squad)

Colback (First team/Sub)

Lascelles (First team)

Taylor (Got rid)

Janmaat (Got rid)

Sissoko (Got rid)

Anita (First team/Sub)

Shelvey (First team)

Perez (First team/Sub)

Wijnaldum (Got rid)

Mitrovic (On the bench/Squad)


Townsend (Got rid)

Doumbia (Got rid)

De Jong (Got rid – Loan)

Darlow (First team)

Sterry (On the bench/Squad)

Riviere  (Got rid – Loan)

Saivet (Got rid – Loan)

Half of the players have left, either temporarily or permanently. Six sold/released and three sent out on loan for the whole season.

Of the other nine, only three have been real automatic first team players – Lascelles, Shelvey & Darlow.

Perez, Anita and Colback move between getting a game and being on the bench.

Whilst Mitrovic, Sterry and Eliot are squad players/on the bench.

This is what Rafa Benitez inherited and sums up just how many things he has had to change in his first year.

A quite remarkable job he has done that only 12 months later Newcastle United are top of the Championship with nine games remaining.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])


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