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Opinion

Newcastle fans show Rafa Benitez strengths and weaknesses in team

3 years ago
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Newcastle fans have once again shown they are pretty good judges, when it comes to watching what is in front of them.

There was a really interesting article on The Mag yesterday, which showed the accumulated ratings for each Newcastle player this season, from the fans.

They had no data for the Spurs match due to a technical fault, so it was the average marks out of 10 given to players after each of the last six Premier League matches.

Newcastle got three wins (Swansea, West Ham, Stoke), one draw (Liverpool) and two defeats (Brighton, Huddersfield) in these half dozen games, with the average marks giving us some excellent info on what supporters think of the individuals in the team this season.

7.4 Matt Ritchie 

7.4 Mikel Merino 

7.0 Ciaran Clark

7.0 Jamaal Lascelles 

7.0 DeAndre Yedlin 

6.8 Chancel Mbemba 

6.8 Rob Elliot

6.1 Joselu 

6.1 Christian Atsu

6.1 Javier Manquillo 

6.0 Isaac Hayden 

5.3 Ayoze Perez

(Players who have only started one of these six games: 7.5 Jonjo Shelvey, 7.4 Jesus Gamez, 5.6 Jacob Murphy, 3.1 Dwight Gayle)

As you can see, it was uncanny the way such a split is showing up the strengths and weaknesses of the team.

You have the two clear stand out players from the forward six positions at the top, with Ritchie and Merino excelling.

Then basically you have the current first choice back five (Elliot, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Mbemba) – and after that, nothing really.

There is a yawning gap to the likes of Joselu and Atsu.

So bottom line is, Rafa Benitez has done it again, built a solid foundation starting from the back and now clearly needs to be backed to bring in the extra players in the front six who can match the efforts/quality of the defence.

When you look at the Premier League stats, they back up what the Newcastle fans have shown with their player ratings. Only four clubs have conceded less goals than Newcastle so far this season, whilst none of the eight clubs above Newcastle have scored fewer goals than NUFC.

I think Sunday reminded us that Shelvey can obviously be added to Merino and Ritchie as an obvious first team choice, which then leaves three positions.

Both Atsu and Joselu have had their moments so far this season but neither look (consistently) up to the level of their teammates, ideally they are squad players. Whilst Ayoze Perez...I am yet to meet a Newcastle fan who understands why he keeps getting picked, the only assumption being that Rafa must think playing Diame would be even worse, and he doesn’t want to play a square peg (Shelvey) in a round hole (as a number 10).

Both Jacob Murphy and Dwight Gayle have the potential to fill two of these three weaker spots in the team but are yet to show it this season.

It must be a realistic aim that Rafa Benitez will surely be backed in January to bring in at least one or two new signings to raise the quality of these positions.

I don’t think it is a case of any need to panic but rather a clear understanding of where Newcastle’s first eleven is open to massive improvement and Rafa obviously is well aware of it as well.

It isn’t a case of spending £200m on a Neymar and instead there are an awful lot of players out there who are realistic signings and could help take the club/team to another level.
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