Rafa Benitez will be considering his options after consecutive defeats for the first time since the opening two games of the season.

Newcastle fans are also keen to be telling/advising him on how he can coax better performances, and hopefully points, out of his squad.

So what exactly are the options for the United boss?

Well, you can’t exactly say there is anybody who shouts out ‘PICK ME’ when you look at the options below.

The seven subs from Saturday first of all:

Karl Darlow – Maybe a bit unlucky to end up out of the team after doing pretty well for most of last season and I wouldn’t be in any panic if for whatever reason he ended up back in the side. However, Rob Elliot is doing an ok job and I doubt anybody would see this as a positive change if made.

Mohamed Diame – Didn’t impress in the Championship and certainly didn’t when starting at Burnley. A decent five/ten minutes against a tiring Palace looks just about his lot for the season.

Jesus Gamez – Played well at Swansea in his only start of the season and maybe worth a try in place of Javier Manquillo, who has struggled in recent games. Similar problem to Manquillo  though, in that he is also right-footed and would be better on the other side. An option though for Old Trafford.

Aleksandar Mitrovic – The big talking horse, or donkey to some. Any number of polls suggest he would be in the team if supporters voted who would start. Whether you rate him or not, it does appear to be a classic case of a player getting better the less he plays. Joselu has looked less effective with each passing game and looks set to drop to the bench with Dwight Gayle a lone striker at Old Trafford. I am not Mitrovic’ biggest fan but can’t argue with those who do want him in, even if it is just to shake it up.

Ciaran Clark – Due to Lascelles injury he looks set to play against Manchester United but to be honest, I would have him in the team regardless. One of our best and most reliable players and if by any chance Lascelles was passed fit, I would be tempted to play three centre-backs to accommodate those two and Lejeune.

Ayoze Perez – Was very average in the Championship and offering very little this season, surely not any kind of an answer to bring him back into the first team.

Jacob Murphy – League One football in 2015/16, Championship football in 2016/17, little wonder it is taking him time to adjust. Not an option.

Rest of Newcastle United’s 25 man squad option:

Mikel Merino – An obvious choice to start, if fit. However, Rafa is saying out for at least a couple of weeks whilst worrying reports from Spain claim maybe out to the new year.

Rolando Aarons – Another who probably has become a better player without playing. Totally sidelined last couple of months despite arguably being Newcastle’s best player and scoring a great goal against Forest in the League Cup. Turns 22 next week and has only four career league starts so far, which suggests reasons on top of injuries as to why managers haven’t trusted him. Surely though nothing to lose by him at least getting on the bench at Old Trafford and always a chance with his pace that Rafa could one day surprise us and throw him in to start.

Jack Colback – Next!

Paul Dummett – Later stages of his recovery now but not back in time for this game. A failure to bring in a real quality new left-back in the summer means he is arguably the best option when fit.

Massadio Haidara – Not good enough.

Chancel Mbemba – For whatever reason(s) Rafa Benitez doesn’t appear to rate/trust him. Ended up totally sidelined for most of the Championship season and then after seemingly impressing when out of position at left-back, has now found himself out of the team and squad since Brighton. Pretty popular with fans but not so with Rafa.

Henri Saivet – A very average midfielder who was maybe the most puzzling ever signing under the Graham Carr/Mike Ashley master plan, as Newcastle were awash with central midfielders and desperate for goalscorers and defenders when he was recruited in January 2016.

Jamie Sterry – Only six minutes in the Premier League so far for the young defender and Old Trafford isn’t the place to add to it.

Sadly, the bottom line is that Rafa Benitez hasn’t got any talented players hidden away who can be thrown in and instantly transform things, nor is there any emerging young players demanding their chance after coming through the ranks.

I think fan choice would see Mitrovic and maybe Aarons as well given a chance to shine but the reality, if I was betting, is likely to see Ayoze Perez as the most likely to come back in. Jesus Gamez potentially also getting a surprise recall.

Your thoughts?

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  • Paul Patterson

    Let me just clear up my stance on Mitrovic as he appears to be the main divisive figure at the moment. He is no more of a hot-head risk than Shelvey, yet the latter starts. He IS our top Premier League goal scoring striker, that can’t be disputed. Even if he wasn’t to start games, going into the last 10-20 minutes either level or behind in games, I don’t see why he shouldn’t be brought on. I also don’t see why people are jumping on Rob Elliots back. His distributed is a bit off but he hasn’t done anything wrong. We don’t have a left back so we will have to stick with Manquillo for now.
    What I’d do for Old Trafford? Start Clark in place of Lascelles, keep the status quo and start Gayle up front with Perez in the number 10 position as there is literally no other option and then look to bring Mitrovic on later on in the game IF (as expected) we are behind.

    • Rich Lawson

      MUFC’s defence is not what it should be,Mitro’ is just the sort of player to hassle/upset them ?

    • Mike Adam

      Paul, I have agreed with every one of your opinions until who should start. It is time for Mitro to get his run of starts! He has scored in the last 7 games he has played in a row, in all competitions! He is our best striker, no matter what the haters say. He scored 36 goals in 2 seasons at Anderlecht, he scored goals in the Champions League at the age of 20/21, he was our 2nd leading goal scorer in his first year with NUFC.

      Last year even though he did not get consistant starts, his goal scoring was off, but he was third on the team in assists behind Ritchie and Shelvey who played 3 times the number of minutes he did. That is the other element Mitro brings that the haters always fail to mention! Most competent football fans know that sometimes the assist is as good or better than the goal itself. So, last year in the Championship add his goals 4 and his assists 7, he helped account for 11 goals in 1100 minutes played, not bad in my book!!!

      You are exactly right when it comes to trust/cards his record over his career is barely worse than Gayle’s and is far better than Shelvey’s over the same period of time. So the haters that keep bringing that up are wrong! Look it up!
      So why doesn’t he get a chance, only the great Rafa knows. Also, it is time for Aarons to be played as well!!! They should both be given a run of starts. Why has Murphy been given playing time ahead of Aarons? Another great mystery in my opinion! Why Rafa? Why is Manquillo playing in front of Mbemba?

      In the end, we all have our opinions and that is how sports works. No matter how revered the manager or how much success he has had, none are perfect and all are accountable for their current team and current decisions.

  • TheNutJob

    Chancel should play at left back as Antonio Valencia will be charged with murder most foul if Manquillo starts

  • HarryHype59

    Jacob Murphy league 1 football in 2015/16!

    Why did Newcastle sign him for £12m this summer?

    • TheNutJob

      that`s a good question add, why did we buy Hoss

      • HarryHype59

        Because he was cheap and is Spanish!

  • Leazes Ender

    Merino is out for Six weeks.

  • Peaky Magpie

    Don’t want to tempt fate here but it’ll be so typical NUFC to go and get a result here.The last time we played them 2 years ago at Old Trafford Mitro was a real handful that day ! By the way if an ad for the Beano pops up once more when I’m trying to type,this iPad is going to be slung like a discus.

  • Nut

    Truth is Rafa would be a fool to come out and say what his team was going to be prior to this game.

    If you ask me he may well play Mitrovic and set the team up to play to his strengths at some point this season, I don’t know if it will be this match but why not?

    Last season in the championship he reguarly mixed things up and changed things around when teams begun to get the measure of us, Mitrovic may well be a card Rafa is keeping close to his chest, the more the press make folk think Rada has issues with him the better it is for Rafa in this case.

    He gets to train the player in practice and improve him then can unleash him if and when he deems it the right time.

    Either way played right there is no denying Mitrovic can be a handful and equally a liability on the pitch but it’s true of so many good players that they have fire in their belly. Not saying Mitrovic is good, but he has potential and at some point be it with us or another club I think he will come good.

    I personally like Mitrovic but may be not for the same reasons everyone else does, one thing I see in him is a footballers brain and that can’t be trained, still his skills are lacking and need more training.

    He has potential it’s a question of if we will ever see it truly unleashed under Rafa or if he will leave before we get to see it.

    Either way I think it’s entirely possible Mitrovic could end up being one of Rafa’s masterstrokes or one of his greatest regrets after he leaves the club that’s the thing none of us know.

    It would be nice to know, still I think of the options we have it would be crazy of Rafa not to give him a run with the team set up for him at some point, my only worry is do we have the wingers capable of pinging / floating pinpoint crosses into the box as Mitrovic needs service delivered on a plate.

    That’s probably in truth why Rafa doesn’t rate him, he needs the team set up to play for him rather than with him.

  • ghostrider

    Rafa has the chance to go in for a penny in for a pound with this game.
    Nobody is expecting us to win and most not expecting to get anything if the truth be known.
    Raf should use this to balance his efforts and take the game to them with the right set up, because sitting back and allowing them to play is a recipe for disaster anyway.

    Assuming Rafa wants to have a go, I’d suggest to use a simple 4/4/2 system.






    Darlow, Atsu? Gayle, Mbemba, Gamez.Manquillo, Diame, Perez.

  • Alan Pardew

    It’s still a very, very difficult place to win. I’d settle for 1-0 every week.

    • Mike Adam

      But when you don’t score any goals the best you can hope for is a draw!

  • Steve Pearce

    4-4-2 with Mitro and Gayle up front – that’s what we fans want but Rafa will stick with The Clod and the Pink Triangle’s favourite Wally Woofter at number 10…..

    • Mike Adam

      Yes please, he did it last week, but with the wrong players! Add Aarons on the wing in Atsu’s place!