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Rafa Benitez explains coping without a David Silva

3 years ago
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Rafa Benitez has been talking about the number 10 position at Newcastle United and brought David Silva into the debate.

Silva came through the youth ranks at Valencia whilst Rafa was there winning La Liga twice and the Newcastle boss says ‘Do you need a Silva? Yes, but, because you cannot get this player, what you need is a team around your players so you can get the points’.

The manager was desperate to bring in a new number 10 in the summer but like other positions where he wasn’t given the backing to properly strengthen, Benitez is doing the best with what he has got.

Rafa says ‘I can read the comments’ from fans about Ayoze Perez but despite admitting he wasn’t very good against Crystal Palace, says that overall the man from Tenerife is ‘doing a great job’.

Supporters sympathise with the manager’s predicament and understand his confidence building assessment of Perez…

However, that doesn’t stop fans talking about the player/team themselves, which is the way it should be, just so long as any criticism is fair.

The bottom line is that even last season in the Championship, Perez didn’t convince the manager that he deserved to start every week, sharing the number 10 position with Mohamed Diame. Neither player doing enough even in the second tier.

Fair to say the vast majority of fans expected a new first choice option for this position to be bought in the summer and it was a major worry when it didn’t happen.

A strong defence and significant number of goals from set-pieces have led to 14 points from nine matches and of course Perez gets some credit for being part of a team effort. However, that doesn’t change the fact that matches such as rock bottom Palace at home last week sum up how toothless Newcastle’s attack has looked much of the time in open play.

Newcastle may not have a David Silva but they do have a Mikel Merino and so it is no surprise that fans do question why he is on the bench and Ayoze Perez is on the pitch. Different types of player but it appears the majority of supporters would prefer to see a system that maybe saw Shelvey in an advanced position, allowing Hayden and Merino to sit in behind, with Perez dropping to the bench.

It doesn’t mean that those fans are definitely right but it is a valid opinion and at Southampton in the final half hour, that trio appeared to work well after Merino replaced Perez.

Rafa Benitez:

“I can read the comments (about Ayoze Perez) and people say this or that.

“He is doing well and he is a clever player, has good movement.

“He didn’t play well the other day (against Crystal Palace) – He knows. We know.

“He had two or three situations where he could do better, and he was wrong, still though he is doing a great job.

“The understanding between him and Joselu, and the midfielders and the rest of the team, is quite good.

“When I talk about a clever player, it doesn’t mean he has to control and put the ball in the top corner.

“No, he has good movement. He knows when he has to go, press and regain, or when he has to attack and do runs behind the defenders. He stays between the lines.

“He’s giving us something that maybe we needed.

“Some people talk about Mohamed Diame. He’s a great worker, and, physically, is bigger and stronger, so he can give us something different.

“I’ve heard that ‘we need a proper No 10’.

“We knew from the beginning that we needed to improve some positions, but not because the players we have there are not good, it is because we wanted to bring better players to be sure we had the competition.

“This position, the No 10, is a player, normally, that – I will give you an example…

“Silva, a player that understands the game and is always on the ball, he can see the pass and the assist.

They don’t see Ayo as this kind of player but he’s not this kind of player…but he is clever enough to do a job and he’s doing a great job.

“Sometimes playing better or worse, but doing a great job, not just when we are defending, but sometimes when we have the ball.

“He has some good movement and is creating space for the others, doing the runs that will give the others more time on the ball.

“In football, the good thing is that you have a team. Depending on one, maybe the others are doing well.

“I was reading some stats about keepers in Europe.

“If your team is playing deep, maybe the keeper is the best, because he has a lot of clean sheets – but maybe he is not making any saves.

“So teams that are playing really, really high, maybe the keeper is really good but is conceding goals all the time. Then people will criticise the keeper – it depends on the team.

“I think we have a good team because we work as a team.

“Silva made his debut in Valencia when he was 17 with us. Since then, I know him. He’s a player that you know is very clever.

“Do you need a Silva? Yes, but, because you cannot get this player, what you need is a team around your players so you can get the points.

“That’s it. We have a team, because the players realise that we have to work as a team, as a unit.”

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