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Rafa Benitez – Competition and the power of squad rotation

4 years ago

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.

If, like me, you live and breathe anything football then please feel free to join my Fantasy Premier League ‘World XI’ league- Code: 114600-30208

Dom also has his own website which you can visit here –

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