In his 2012 book entitled ‘Champions league dreams’, Rafa Benitez went to great lengths in highlighting the power of squad rotation and increasing the competition for places within a squad.

Rafa understands the multiple benefits of keeping a squad on its toes, to maximise focus, commitment and productivity.

Newcastle fan opinion seems to be once again split over the two new signings made this week. Jacob Murphy is a player who may well have Matt Richie looking over his shoulder. A player with undeniable talent, similar in some ways to Kieran Dyer some say, he does appear to have an end product – something that Dyer was all too often accused of lacking when he regularly ran himself into dead ends.

Javier Manquillo is yet to be formally announced but is an interesting signing, that has apparently came from nowhere and has sparked considerable debate. Heavily criticized as a ‘Sunderland reject’ it appears that there may be truth to the rumours that being dropped from the Sunderland first team was down to avoiding activating his £9.5 million purchase if he had played 25 games.

Sunderland supporters though maintain their claim that even Billy Jones was better….whilst Toon fans are currently underwhelmed by this particular signing and are hopeful of more marquee incomings over the forthcoming weeks.

Rafa states in this except from his 2012 book:

“Rotation, another concept so roundly scorned in England, can be very useful. By drafting in players who are competing for their place, a manager can ensure his team has the intensity needed to win these games. It can keep everyone in the team on their toes.”

So this week’s new signings, although maybe not purchased as direct additions to the first team, will undoubtedly have Matt Richie and DeAndre Yedlin looking over their shoulders and keeping their eye firmly on the ball.

Rafa is quoted as saying that ‘no player is indispensable, although some are more important than others.’ This sends a very clear message to every player, a point demonstrated early in his tenure with the timely omission of Jonjo Shelvey: a player clearly marked as an integral member of the core group.

Shelvey, after being ‘dropped’ for a vital game for Swansea in the Premier League clearly already understood the Benitez way.

“It’s frustrating not to start (again my former club) but it’s not about me at this stage – it’s about the team and winning.”

We saw this, seemingly ruthless, philosophy in play several times last season in the Championship with the omission of Jamaal Lascelles and more interestingly the complete sidelining of goalkeeper Mats Sels after the match at Villa Park.

Rafa reinforces his point surrounding his philosophy towards competition for places:

“It is crucial (particularly in a competition like the Champions League, where the standard is so high and the opponents so dangerous) that a team retains its focus until the very last kick.”

We are extremely fortuitous to have Rafa Benitez leading Newcastle Untied. His football brain, experience and single-minded pursuit of excellence guarantees that no stone will be unturned in the quest for maximum points this coming season.

Regardless of who does or doesn’t join the squad come August 12th, we are guaranteed a team who will fight until the final whistle for the cause…and if they don’t, there’s someone ready to step in and fight harder.

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Dom also has his own website which you can visit here – www.natureslarder.tv

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



  • TheNutJob

    the quality isn`t there to rotate, an injury to Dwight or Jonjo & we`re down the toilet
    if we lose both at the same time, DISASTER

    • Wor Monga

      …and wouldn’t you just love it, Nutty…you’ve been predicting it for some time now!!!

      • TheNutJob

        doesn`t take a genius to see we are woefully short of quality

        • TC Toon Army

          We’re signing players that want to play for Newcastle and Rafa. You Want to talk about quality but haven’t seen what the team can do yet. Give it a chance. We do need a striker and midfeilder. I’ll agree there.

          • Damon Horner

            Agreed. Seems unfair to judge their quality when they haven’t faced up to any competition yet.

          • Desree

            Nit job is right. We have weakened striking options and there is no competition for shelvey. So if we lose both it will be disaster. It was in the championship so it will be worse in the PL, no?

          • Damon Horner

            Shelvey is a luxury type of player, having two like him will be hard to keep them happy. We don’t need another Shelvey but we will need to ensure we wouldn’t miss his creativity even if there is another formation used and the creativity is from another position.

            Striker is something I don’t think anybody would deny. Gayle might be good enough but his history tells you he will not likely play the full season.

            This window isn’t over yet, it is a matter of patience and letting the team have a crack before judging quality

          • Desree

            We know what happens though. Selling Cabaye, losing Shelvey for 5 games. The team crumbles.

          • Damon Horner

            Because there had been a tactical reliance, particularly with Cabaye.

            Last year with Gouffran, Diame and Gayle they’re not the most inventive of players so without Shelvey it was entirely on what Ritchie could do. Another year on, could we see more from Atsu? Will Murphy change the dynamic?

            I just can’t see a ball specialist in a deep position sitting waiting for Shelvey to exit the team especially when seeing Shelvey go on one of his rampages.

  • Peter Stabler

    We get the best out of what we have using Rafa’s rotation and competition for places – far more effective than spending on players who think they will use us a stepping stone with time on the pitch seen as time in the shop window for Champions League clubs to look at.
    I want them all desperate to play and looking over their shoulder when they are in.

  • Wor Monga

    with Rafa coaching the ‘mackem’ Manquillo, why not?… Stan Anderson was a Sunderland reject, and for me he was the best wing half we had between Mitten, and Keegan’s days…we had ‘Smokin Joe’ to thank for that one!!!

  • Leazes Ender

    In his 2018 revised book entitled ‘Champions league dreams evaporate’ he states I had the numbers in the squad but not the quality, so I left when a club with ambition approached.

    • Dom Morgan

      Very funny:) perhaps a touch of cynicism there my friend.

  • Peter Stabler

    I can be negative me and it makes me feel clever…….

  • Peter Stabler

    I can be positive me and accept that Rafa has forgotten more than I will ever learn, trust in the evidence and enjoy the ride – it won’t unfurl just how you’d like it – it’s not an exact science but it is fun – who ever you are!

  • Alreet

    Its alot slower than normal but its still progress. With chelsea getting Morata thatll pave the way for michy coming to toon. That will be that day to remember. If that pans out we will be looking rather healthy at the front line.

    Then a midfielder and we arent doing too bad.

    The clearout still needs to keep going though. Sels goof and murph gone but we still need manuelle saivet and colback shoved on.