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Opinion

Easy to ignore Rafa Benitez will only have 2 of 11 players of his choice to face West Ham

2 years ago
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Rafa Benitez must feel like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Experiencing the kind of luck you might get if you wandered into a Hall of  Mirrors and ended up smashing every single one of them.

A lack of proper investment by Mike Ashley, three defeats, compounded by injuries and suspension…and the season isn’t two weeks old yet!

Out for mischief/attention grabbing, certain journalists and pundits, as well as a small minority of Newcastle supporters, have bizarrely started pointing a finger at Rafa Benitez, as though he has any significant part to play when it comes to apportioning blame for the current situation.

As further evidence, have a look at this likely team to play Newcastle today:

Elliot, Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba, Ritchie, Merino, Hayden, Atsu, Perez/Diame, Joselu

Taking our current squad as it is today, this is my opinion on whether they would be starting if everybody was available:

Elliot – Would play

Manquillo – Yedlin instead

Lascelles – Lejeune instead

Clark – Would play

Mbemba – Dummett instead

Ritchie – Would play

Merino – Shelvey instead

Hayden – Would play

Atsu – Would play

Perez/Diame – Would play

Joselu – Gayle instead

I make it that Rafa Benitez will be missing at least five sure starters (unless Gayle passes late fitness test) and will only have six first choice starters from the current squad.

However, I think that if the transfer window had gone anything like what the manager would have chosen/expected, I think only two of this likely team today would be playing.

It is 100% clear Rafa was/is intent on bringing in a new first choice goalkeeper.

Then in the middle of the pitch I’m sure his plan was to have a more experienced player alongside Shelvey, with Hayden as first choice replacement.

On the wing, Atsu did well against Spurs but did nothing at Huddersfield, I can’t believe the manager saw the Ghanaian in his starting eleven – with surely a better winger expected to start the season.

Then without a doubt Rafa Benitez saw the number 10 role as one that needed a far better player than Diame or Perez, neither of who could even make the place their own in the Championship. Even in January it was claimed that the United boss was trying to bring in a player for that position to ensure promotion, as well as preparing for the Premier League.

Up front, even if Gayle does play, once again I think the manager wanted a striker who was a more sure bet than Dwight Gayle, both in terms of fitness and playing CV.

He has previously indicated this when saying that Gayle has it still all to prove, plus there was a desperate need anyway to have somebody else to share the goals load – not having to risk bringing in a Joselu who aged 27 has never scored double figures in any first division of any country.

This above is even more reason why Rafa Benitez needs unqualified support.

Only by making the team better than its individual parts, with the help of the fans, can Newcastle find relative success this season.

This is not Rafa’s choice of team today but it is the one both he and us have been dealt.

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

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