When Rafa Benitez is considering his options on Sunday, it will be very different to what he was thinking 17 months ago.

In that short space of time there has been a remarkable change in personnel at Newcastle United, as the Spaniard stamps his personality on the club.

The 16 April 2017 saw Newcastle face Swansea at St James Park, as they desperately tried to say in the Premier League.

This is the team Rafa Benitez sent out:

Karl Darlow

Vurnon Anita

Jamaal Lascelles

Chancel Mbemba

Paul Dummett

Moussa Sissoko

Cheick Tiote

Jack Colback

Andros Townsend

Gini Wijnaldum

Papiss Cisse

The game ended in a 3-0 win for Newcastle – goals from Lascelles, Sissoko (!!) and Townsend guaranteeing the thee points.

Of those 11 players:

Anita, Sissoko, Tiote, Townsend, Wijnaldum and Cisse have all been moved on by Benitez.

Rafa tried to move out Jack Colback and Karl Darlow this summer but the pair ended up remaining as squad members.

Whilst Paul Dummett and Chancel Mbemba are out injured.

The only one who may start on Sunday is Jamaal Lascelles.

Even he is not guaranteed to be named in the starting eleven, as Rafa Benitez started the season with Ciaran Clark and Florian Lejeune as his first choice pairing, and the Frenchman is in line to return on Sunday having trained this week after injury kept him out.

Yedlin is also expected to be back and so Manquillo could switch to left-back. However, the smart money is on Lascelles retaining his place as the only survivor from that April 2016 match, either partnering Lejeune with Clark at left-back, or partner Clark and Manquillo at left-back.

Either way, Newcastle and Rafa have a totally changed team and I will leave it up to you to decide whether this September 2017 Newcastle team is better than the April 2016 version.

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



  • Steve Pearce

    D’oh – that was last year’s Championship team. Sorry to mock your stunning piece of news, but a manager of Rafa’s standing will sign new players and obviously not send out the same team a year later…

    • Mark Spark

      Why not post your own article?Or make an interesting comment?or just say nowt?3 questions for you,lets hear your answers

  • MadToonFan&VitalAshleyDroveOut

    A relative distinctive improvement in the squad, you simply have to applaud Rafa on such, some would say, a limited, or meagre, budget compared to other Prem Clubs 🙃

    • Mark Spark

      Agreed,merino in particular

  • Paul Patterson

    Andros Townsend would’ve been a great addition to to this side..

    • Mark Spark

      at what price though?do you think he was worth more than say 16M?Even in todays market I think that would be the max,certainly not the 25 plus that was rumoured