Rafa Benitez has been talking about Dwight Gayle again.

The Newcastle manager saying that his number nine wasn’t left out of the 18 man squad v West Ham due to injury.

Rafa instead giving two other reasons, as to why Gayle wasn’t involved after starting against both Spurs and Huddersfield.

The first reason the United boss gave, was that Mitrovic had been doing well in training.

However, the other factor was ‘confidence’.

Back in February of this year, was the first time Benitez said that confidence was an issue for Dwight Gayle, that the recurring hamstring problems the striker had experienced in the past couple of years, meant he then had problems mentally once the physical side had healed. That is problems with feeling able to sprint flat out, which is obviously the key part of his game when getting into scoring positions.

At the beginning of August Rafa came back to these confidence issues affecting Dwight Gayle and now he is saying the same thing again.

Joselu did pretty well and obviously scored against West Ham, whilst Mitrovic also did ok in his 20 minutes at the end, also scoring.

However, it is clear that a better quality attacking option is also needed as part of the mix.

On his best form of last season, Dwight Gayle could well be that man, but with these injury/confidence issues you can’t count on it.

The last 48 hours have seen claims that Newcastle could sell Gayle and use the money to buy a new striker, with some media/fans even claiming that Newcastle could get as much as £20m for the former Palace man.

Much of that is based on the fact that Burnley paid £15m for Chris Wood, who ended up top scorer in the Championship last season with four more goals than Dwight Gayle, but he started 15 more matches for Leeds as Gayle was the victim of hamstring/confidence issues…

Little doubt the Newcastle striker would have finished top scorer with 30+ goals last season but only if he had stayed fit…and that is a big if.

Chris Wood has started this season in good form and fitness, scoring once for Leeds before his move, then a dream Premier League debut seeing him scoring that late equaliser for Burnley at Wembley against Tottenham on Sunday.

On the other hand, as we know all too well, Dwight Gayle hasn’t looked anywhere near his best and now his manager confirms the confidence issues again.

The bottom line surely is that for better or worse, Newcastle United and their number nine are stuck together at least until January, as nobody is going to pay big money for a striker with hamstring/confidence issues – no matter how mad the transfer market has gone. There being little point in allowing him to go out on loan, with next to nothing added to Rafa’s transfer pot.

Hopefully this will work to our advantage and Gayle can get himself sorted and get back amongst the goals.

If anybody is going to leave then surely it will have to be Mitrovic, with his fitness proved and scoring a couple of goals already helping to pull in a buyer, rather than somebody landing him on loan.

Rafa Benitez talking about Dwight Gayle’s absence on Saturday:

“Dwight Gayle wasn’t on the bench because Mitrovic has been doing well and training well.

“We had two strikers (Joselu & Mitrovic) and they both scored.

“Obviously, he (Gayle) has to go back to his level, but sometimes with strikers, it depends on scoring goals and confidence, so we will see.

“He is coming back and he is training well again, but because he had this issue maybe two or three weeks ago, he was a little bit worried and we were talking.

“In reality, he was not injured, so it’s just the confidence.

“I think he needs his confidence back – he’s fine, he was training (ahead of West Ham).”

The Mag – 7 August 2017:

Dwight Gayle started 21 of Newcastle’s first 26 Championship matches last season, scoring 20 goals.

After scoring and picking up yet another hamstring injury against Brentford on 14 January 2017, Gayle then missed a number of matches, returning for the Aston Villa home match on 20 February.

A week before that Villa game, Rafa Benitez suggested that getting his main striker back playing, was at least as much a mental thing as a physical thing, saying ‘It depends on him…he has trained OK. But sometimes it is the confidence of the player, so we will see how he feels.’

After only 33 minutes of that Villa game, Dwight Gayle was subbed, saying he didn’t feel right.

In the final 20 games of the Championship season, he only started five matches and score three goals, with ongoing worries about Dwight Gayle feeling confident of playing again without worries over his recurring hamstring problems.

Kicking off the friendlies with both goals in a 2-1 win at Hearts, Newcastle’s number nine burst out laughing when it was suggested after the game that his hamstring problems were ‘clearly behind’ him. Saying ‘I wouldn’t say that. Just seeing how it goes and fingers crossed’.

With just 30 minutes in the last three friendlies and no time on the pitch in the last two games, Dwight Gayle’s fears appear to have proved correct.

However, just like back in February, Rafa Benitez once again says it is very much a ‘confidence’ thing, rather than purely a hamstring issue.

A key part of the forward’s game is his pace and Rafa says that Dwight Gayle has to regain the ‘confidence to know he can sprint’ and that they are working in training to try and help him do that.

The last player Newcastle needed to have missing this coming season, with a ‘hamstring niggle’ and ‘confidence’ issues, difficult to see Gayle starting against Spurs – so best hope is we could see him on the bench and potentially involved in a cameo later on, with a first Premier League start for Newcastle just around the corner.

Just like Dwight Gayle, Newcastle fans will have ‘fingers crossed’.

Rafa Benitez – 6 August 2017:

”It’s not his hamstring – it’s more the feeling that he has. He’s not comfortable and we don’t want to take any risks.

“Dwight is training with the fitness coach, so hopefully he can carry on training this week.

“He needs the confidence to know he can sprint and do everything as he was doing before.

“It’s a question of confidence, so we will carry on pushing him in training and hopefully we can get back the confidence.”

Dwight Gayle interviewed – 15 July 2017 (after scoring twice v Hearts):

‘Towards the back end of last season you were plagued by that hamstring trouble a little bit. That’s clearly behind you now, it is all in the past?’

In response, Dwight Gayle burst out laughing at the playing down of his injury problems and said:

“I wouldn’t say that. Just seeing how it goes and fingers crossed I can get as many games as possible next season.”

Rafa Benitez – 13 February 2017:

“It depends on him (Dwight Gayle).

“He is training with the team and he has trained OK.

“But sometimes it is the confidence of the player, so we will see how he feels.”

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Great, 3 of our top players. 2 have attitude problems & the other needs a shrink

    • Alex

      And, our owner has / needs both!

    • Rich Lawson

      So,Mental Michael Maximus Moose then ?

  • Paul Patterson

    It’s down to the player. Either he isn’t going to play at all through lack of confidence or when he does play he’s only going to be at 75% and if he goes at 100% he will likely break down.
    Either way, he’s a compromised player. I like him, but we can’t hang on for him. £20m and snap someone’s hands off..

    • Jezza

      Yes but that £20 million would just be going straight into Ashley’s pocket. I’d rather keep Dwight Gayle.

  • NUFCDan

    We need to keep Gayle at all costs unless replaced with a similar but better quality goalscorer – and where would we find one of them for less than £30m and willing to come to NUFC? We all know Rafa is going to play 1 up front most of the season and I would guess this would mostly be Joselu or Mitro but if we want someone to come off the bench and change a game I can’t think of many realistic players we could sign that I’d rather have than Gayle.

    • Clarko

      “We need to keep Gayle at all costs”, followed by “unless replaced with a similar but better quality goalscorer”, instant contradiction.

      Why do you think Joselu and Mitrovic are ahead of Gayle in the team selection?

      Why would you be in favour of keeping a £20m striker in the reserves?

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        £20m, ha ha ha

        • Clarko

          Chris Wood £14.76m, Assombalonga £15.39m, Andre Gray £18.36m (1 year left on contract).

          “With Gayle 27 years of age and as-of-yet unproven in the Premier League, it perhaps makes sense to attempt to make a profit on a player who will certainly have second-tier suitors. The £10million Newcastle forked out last summer could perhaps even be doubled; certainly £15m as a minimum could be recouped given the rapid inflationary nature of the current market”

          The Mag:
          “The last 48 hours have seen claims that Newcastle could sell Gayle and use the money to buy a new striker, with some media/fans even claiming that Newcastle could get as much as £20m for the former Palace man”

          Dwight Gayle valuation £17m – £20m

          • TheNutJob

            try getting that in the real world, not the Google world

          • Clarko

            Chris Wood £14.76m, Assombalonga £15.39m, Andre Gray £18.36m (1 year left on contract).


          • TheNutJob

            they haven`t got injury or psychological problems

          • Clarko

            “According to the Daily Star, Newcastle have told Leeds they will have to cough up £18 million if they want to land Dwight Gayle”

          • magpiefifer

            That’ll be right coming from the Daily Star!!!
            Tell me why your posts always purport you to be right and most others to be morons – you’re such a charmer!!!!g

          • Clarko

            If I’m wrong tell me why, give me a reason, counter my argument, give me evidence that tells me I’m wrong.

            Out of the eight different people questioning my argument, I have labelled one a “moron”, the conversation went as follows:

            “Chris Wood £14.76m, Assombalonga £15.39m, Andre Gray £18.36m (1 year left on contract).”

            “try getting that in the real world, not the Google world”

            That person, is a moron.

          • magpiefifer

            I don’t know how you live with yourself, being so perfect.
            I’ve got a life, so I’ll not respond to your request in detail,but my references were not to your one post but to the many you put on The Mag ad nauseum!

          • Clarko

            Again, no evidence, no reasoning, no point.

          • magpiefifer

            As I said AD NAUSEUM!!!!!

          • Clarko

            No evidence, no reasoning, no point.

          • glassjawsh-got-banned

            Since you just disagree with everyone no matter what sort of stance they take it’s impossible to tell if you are for or against selling Gayle.

          • Clarko

            I want what is best for the team, I thought Gayle would be sold earlier in the window as he would generate “big” money (between £17m-£20m) that could be used for new players, Newcastle look to be in the market for players under the £12m mark, if selling Gayle means Newcastle can bring in a further two players that will improve the squad I’m all for that. It’s also interesting to note that Gayle is being moved out shortly after the arrival of Joselu.

            That being said there is no evidence to suggest that Gayle can’t be successful in the Premier League, in fact the evidence suggests Gayle will be prolific in the Premier League.

            That is where I stand, providing Newcastle are able to bring in adequate replacements (assume they will, every recruitment has improved the squad so far) it is a win-win.

          • Clarko

            Assombalonga in 14/15 missed 430 days, 61 games due to a knee injury.

            Gray was suspended for 4 games in 16/17 after being found guilty of misconduct for offensive comments made on social media.

        • HarryHype59

          According to Clarko, Rafa was going to get £70m minimum off Ashley. For all his bluff and bluster the bloke is clueless and fails to see the obvious.

      • NUFCDan

        We might the £10m back we paid for him – and what sort of replacement could be bought for £10m? Another Rivierie from France perhaps? The squad is stronger for having him in it, and I’d much rather have him as a plan B off the bench than one of the kids or some unproven player from France/Spain.

        • Clarko

          Dwight Gayle would be valued at £17m-£20m based on the following transfers:

          Chris Wood £14.76m, Assombalonga £15.39m, Andre Gray £18.36m (1 year left on contract).

      • steve

        They are (or should be ahead of Gayle) because the system we play calls for someone with a physical presence up front.

        • Clarko

          Newcastle played the same system last season with Gayle as the first choice, Newcastle won the Championship, Gayle scoring 23 goals.

          • Rich Lawson

            Exceptional,but in only 26 games (almost half the season) What are his confidence problems ? Scared to run to hard on his hamstring ? Worried about the weight on him to score goals as a loan striker in the prem’ ? We need to know,but I do not endorse selling him,he can be used better.

          • Clarko

            Gayle made 32 appearances in the Championship last season.

            I could make the exact same argument regarding Mitrovic and Joselu regarding “confidence” and “weight”. Those arguments are silly to make.

          • Rich Lawson

            I don’t think Mitro’ lacks confidence,quite the reverse ? How is it a silly argument to make about Gayle when the article is about his confidence problem ?

          • Clarko

            Again, all you are doing is asking questions.

            The debate in which you decided to jump in the middle of was not about confidence, irrelevant to this discussion.

            I could easily argue that Mitrovic and Joselu have confidence issues, you would not be able to refute it because it’s not objective, it’s not factual, it’s silly.

          • Rich Lawson

            you can argue all you want pal, as you do. but the article is about Gayle

          • Clarko

            The absolute state of that comment. Keep on asking your irrelevant questions pal.

          • Rich Lawson

            What are your views on GAYLE’S confidence ? Not his statistic’s

          • Clarko

            Keith Downie:

            “Understand Newcastle could offload striker Dwight Gayle before Thursday’s deadline”

            I believe it’s more of a lets not get injured so we can sell you, rather than he is not playing due to a “confidence” issue.

          • Rich Lawson

            Fine,why couldn’t you just say that ,instead of going round the houses with Mitro’ and Joselu ?

          • Clarko

            Because, as mentioned, multiple times now, the discussion was on Mitrovic and Joselu.

          • Jimblag23

            You have a post where you reply to someone just asking questions by the way.

          • Clarko

            “all you are doing is asking questions”, keyword being “all”, stop being silly.

          • Jimblag23

            Sorry for being silly 🤡🤓💩👻👽🙅‍♂️🕺🦆

          • Franzcarrsuperstar

            Different standard. We’ll expect to have less of the ball this season meaning we will need to make the possession we do have count. I would say it makes sense to lead the line in the premier league with somebody more comfortable with their back to goal – Joselu or Mitrovic- to allow us to get runners off them. That seems to work with the options we do now have in pacey wide players – Atsu, Ritchie, Aarons and Murphy. Yedlin and Kenedy perhaps, too (if he joins). Gayle would then still be useful to change things up, and he could play sometimes as a wide attacker. But I can see why Joselu or Mitrovic would be preferred this season.

          • Clarko

            Premier League shots to conversion rates:
            Gayle: 18%
            Joselu: 14%
            Mitrovic: 12%

            If we “need to make the possession we do have count”, surely Gayle would be the favourite as he has the best conversion rate.

            The Championship is as physical as the Premier League if not more so, Gayle was successful in the Championship, any “lead the line” comment is silly as that argument is based on tactical preference, if Benitez wants a target man Mitrovic/Joselu would be the choice, if Benitez wants an off the shoulder/counter attacker Gayle would be the choice.

          • Franzcarrsuperstar

            I’m not so much talking about conversion rates, but that fact that the ball needs to stick up front to bring our wide players into the game.

            Also not disputing physicality of the league, but the standard of play in the championship was poorer to the degree that we had more of the ball, meaning more opportunities to pick passes and there was generally more space for Gayle to exploit.

            This season we will more likely need someone with good technique facing play in order to hold up, lay off flicks and headers and allow runners beyond them. So actually to play a counter-attacking style, Joselu or Mitrovic are probably still the better option.

          • Clarko

            You’re describing the target man, Benitez may well go with the target man this season but you cannot say that strikers like Gayle do not work in the league, you have Vardy, Gray, Wilson, Jesus, Aguero, King, Rashford, Iheanacho, Lacazette, Welbeck, ect…. All of a similar style, all playing for a range of different clubs, all successful.

          • Franzcarrsuperstar

            Vardy plays as one of two generally. I’d question how successful Gray and Wilson are and Welbeck and King are totally different to all the others you have listed. They are more like you’re reductive “the target man”… not similar in style to Gayle.

            Swansea (Llorente), Crystal Palace (Benteke) and Southampton (Pelle) are good examples of teams that have managed to compete over the past couple of years by using a striker with a good touch, strength and the ability to bring their wide attackers into play.

            It’s not about “the target man” or “counter attack/shoulder” or whatever else is in the tactics drop down menu on Championship Manager. That is too trite. We’ll need a system that suits what we have and allows us to compete, and I’m simply proposing my opinion, based on the evidence of the first three games, that Mitrovic or Joselu could be better suited.

            I’m not saying Gayle won’t work in the this league, just that in most games I’d start with a different approach.

          • Clarko

            Manchester City (Aguero and Jesus), Leicester (Vardy and Musa), Burnley (Gray) and Bournemouth (Wilson) are good examples of teams that have managed to compete over the past couple of years by using a striker who like to run behind the defence, players that are pacey, players who are effective in the counter attack.

            That’s right you are basing your opinion “on the evidence of the first three games”. You are diminishing the teams competitiveness when Gayle is present based on a game against Tottenham, the best team in the league over the last two seasons, while playing with ten men and a close (but poor) away game at Huddersfield with three first team members unavailable. While predicting that a team with Joselu/Mitrovic will be more competitive based on a single game against West Ham, a team who sit bottom of the league, a team who have conceded 10 goals in 3 games. The evidence is sparse to say the least, and that is my point.

            I don’t have an opinion on the matter, I just don’t like it when people disregard evidence, the 46 games last season don’t count because the Championship is a “different standard”, the conversion rates don’t matter because “I’m not so much talking about conversion rates”.

            At this point I don’t know what the point of your argument is? I am not interested in debating this, it’s all a bit straw man.

          • Franzcarrsuperstar

            Use your stats to show how many chances Gray converted, how many separate games he scored in and who they were against for Burnley last season. Then do the same for Musa and Calum Wilson and reply to me with those figures you total and utter buffoon

            The comparisons to Aguero and Jesus are a total red-herring as they play for one of the best teams in Europe with almost infinite resources, stocked with the best players money can buy. Aguero himself is also one of those proven best players. A very special case.

            You always accuse people of dismissing evidence (“the facts don’t cease to exist…. yada yada, yawn”) but then add in a boat load of caveats as to why we should ignore the empirical evidence of watching the first three premier league games of the season, by any measure a better guide as to what is happening now than games played 6 months ago against poorer teams. Three games against mixed opposition is enough recent evidence to start forming opinions on the best systems for this season. And the difference against West Ham was not marginal, it was marked. We were still missing those three first team regulars you think were so crucial to our defeat against Huddersfield – a team we beat easily in the equivalent fixture last season, which you think is better evidence to reference for this season’s fortunes. Not holding up to scrutiny this argument (for the record we played a striker good with his back to goal and linking up play with our wide players when we beat Huddersfield last season, but not this season).

            So lets reconvene when you have those stats for Gray, Musa and Wilson and see wht that tells us.

          • Clarko

            Premier League shots to conversion rates:

            Wilson: 23%
            Gray: 18%
            Gayle: 18%
            Joselu: 14%
            Musa: 12%
            Mitrovic: 12%

            Again, disregarding Aguero (17%), Jesus (24%) and Vardy (20%) because the statistics don’t align with your opinion, by the looks of things neither do the statistics that you requested (above).

            I never said anything about ignoring the first three games, the problem is that you are only focusing on the first three games and are ignoring everything else, you’re being selective, much like you are with the strikers. You’re basing your opinion on a single game (West Ham), it’s just not valid.

            Again I don’t have an opinion on the matter, it looks as if Gayle is being sold anyways, so we will never know for sure.

  • goggsy

    Maybe a couple of goals against forest could have boosted his confidence.

  • TheNutJob

    Chances are this lot would flog him at the 12th hour & you`d hear no more about it
    the fee would end up in 1 of Fatty`s slush funds

    • Jezza

      I can definitely see them flogging him at the last minute. As for hearing no more about the fee, well that wouldn’t happen. You’d still get all the Ashley apologists on here steadfastly insisting it would be spent in January just like they said the Sissoko fee would last year.

      • TheNutJob

        still waiting for them to spend Big Andy`s money

  • Peaky Magpie

    Won’t sell him now,Mitro is heading for a ban.

  • mactoon

    As mentioned below with Mitro seemingly heading for a retrospective ban it would be a gamble selling Gayle and if paid in instalments how much of his fee would be made available for Rafa to spend before Thursdays deadline?

  • Cuh

    I trusted Rafa when he benched my beloved Mitrovic last season, and it worked out with Gayle being the highest goal scorer. A good number of our high scoring games last season came with Mitrovic on the pitch though. He didn’t score all the goals but other players did as well, and I prefer watching the team play that way.

    Same manager now deems Mitrovic better than Gayle at the moment. Suddenly there are suggestions that Rafa is being shady, as well as the accusations that Rafa is benching Gayle so he can sell him uninjured. I hope real fans aren’t buying that.

  • Mike

    I sense another Andy Carroll situation……..hmmmm