As Rafa Benitez presses on with the transformation of Newcastle United it seems that substance comes before style – and not before time.
Benitez has overseen a level of planning and organisation so meticulous that even the pundits who seem determined to slate our club are now having to change course. I hope it lasts.
The flip side of that has been the implementation of game plans that are less than easy on the eye. If we were a contestant on the Great British Bake Off we’d be delivering on flavour, if not appearance – but no soggy bottom so far.
We’re a pain in the backside to play against.
The football is rugged and the drilling of the players is an absolute masterclass in how to get by when resources have been limited, as we saw in the summer when the manager was somewhat shafted in that transfer window.
The lazy cliché is that those pesky Geordies just want to see football that is wide open, scoring more than the opposition.
But the current path we’re treading is completely at odds with that. The games may be less enjoyable to watch for longish periods, but it’s a results business, and that is what manager and players are delivering.
The Palace game was pretty sterile. They got the job done in the end. I’ll take that all day.
Some fans may turn up demanding to be entertained and we’d all love to see an avalanche of goals. Perhaps the club should have spent more on a striker?
For now, this side needs more time to grow, if they can carrying on edging out the results then so be it. I just want to see more winning football, the champagne stuff can wait.
The even better news is that Rafa Benitez really can foster a more attacking style, he’s certainly no Graeme Souness. He said as much in his recent interview with Marca, the Spanish newspaper. He can take the handbrake off, if needed.
The rigid blueprint he has this team are following at the moment has made us one of the meanest defences in the league. I never thought that would happen with a Newcastle side.
The tougher run of fixtures lie ahead, but the hard headed approach to keeping the game tight has put is a great position. That is entertainment in itself.
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