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Opinion

Alternatives for Rafa Benitez

3 years ago
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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.

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