Rafa Benitez has got all defensive…about being defensive.

The Newcastle boss asked what he thought about those who claimed his side/tactics were boring and defensive.

Rafa Benitez countered by declaring ‘We are not defensive, we are well organised, this is different’.

The Newcastle boss says ‘I don’t agree with that….we attack and we create’.

Well Rafa, having seen all 10 Premier League games in the flesh, I have to say we are canny boring, most of the time.

Yes the team do ‘attack and create’ but not very often.

This is not a criticism, it is just reality.

When I saw the team on Monday night at 7pm, I didn’t think ‘Great, we’re going to rip these to bits’.

Instead I simply expected a lot of discipline, ensuring as much as possible the team kept it tight, and made no stupid mistakes or showed weakness. With then the hope we would create maybe a few decent chances and take one of them, possibly from a set-piece.

With Joselu, Perez, Diame, and Atsu, as four of your front six, you would have to be pretty mental to believe anything else.

Bottom line is none of them would be rated in the best 11 of any other Premier League club, they are squad players at best in the top tier.

However, that is the hand Rafa Benitez has been dealt, Burnley’s injured striker Chris Wood was missing on Monday night but he cost roughly the same amount as that Newcastle quartet combined, that is reality.

What is ridiculous is when you get say Jose Mourinho spending half a billion quid on his team and sends them out in a defensive/negative formation.

It is a necessary evil for Newcastle United this season, we all dream of a takeover and quality reinforcements in January but Rafa Benitez has to deal with the here and now.

Newcastle don’t have the quality to play on the front foot in most matches, apart from Shelvey, Merino and up to a point Matt Ritchie (who for me is more of a very good worker than quality player), all of Newcastle’s strengths are at the back, especially in centre of defence.

At Liverpool, when Rafa Benitez had players of the quality of Gerrard, Torres, Bellamy, Alonso and others, you can play in his favoured formation AND be very good going forward.

Newcastle cannot.

However, I do think the United boss does have to at least shake things up a bit, these past two matches against Palace and Burnley have been especially painful to watch, particularly where Perez and Joselu are concerned.

It might prove to be just swapping deckchairs on the Titanic but we need to see some life from somewhere in the attacking third.

By the way, for those fans (and journalists) putting on their rose-tinted glasses after Palace, because we scored a winner four minutes from time…yes you can very rightfully celebrate a late winner but don’t try and them make out it has been any kind of a decent performance or anything but tedious to watch.

It was actually worse to watch than Burnley for me, especially with Newcastle at home. I don’t blame Rafa Benitez as he has to somehow get the points from somewhere to survive this season before then hopefully moving on and buying players who are decent Premier League quality.

Boring is fine in the short-term as (if we get new ambitious owners) I can see am upwards graph showing Promotion -Boring but Premier League safety – Buy decent players and move on.

I do think it is a miracle that Newcastle have 14 points after 10 games, considering the players we have. Problem is that some fans and journalists then think that this team is better than it is, beginning to then expect result and better football, with questions then coming as to why that isn’t happening.

I am now looking forward to watching a very good (but boring) 1-0 win against Bournemouth, with Newcastle probably defending more than they are attacking.

This is reality…for now (hopefully).

Rafa Benitez:

“I don’t agree with that (accusations of being defensive or boring).

“People used to say that when I was at Liverpool…’He’s defensive’ – We are not defensive, we are well organised, that is different.

“We attack and we create…we had 12 attempts against Burnley.

“However, we also defend well and we have good balance, good organisation – we don’t go away to think about a draw and we always want to win, but it depends on the players that you have.

“Sometimes, with teams in Europe, you see they have players coming from the bench costing more than those on the pitch – it means they have different tools.

“We have a team who work together very well and are able to achieve what we have.

“If people say ‘You have to be more attractive’ then maybe we’d be conceding goals all the time and losing.

“I do not think we are a boring team and I don’t pay too much attention to those who say that we are.

“We are in a really good position and we score goals, hopefully we will score more, but we are not bad when you look at the league.

“The strikers maybe do need to score more but we are quite good when compared to many others.”

To feature like Dean Wilkins submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here



  • steve pearce

    So you would rather have the “Schoolboy defending” that plagued us in the dark days before the Rafalution. Change takes time and have you noticed that our midfield has improved as well? With new ownership the attacking sector of our team will be improved with capable players – but we are currently in the top ten and you should be happy. Because you just have to look at Scumderland to realise without Rafa we could have joined them on the slippery slope to League One from which there is no return….

  • ghostrider

    We don’t have the best players in the prem but we certainly (pound for pound) do not have the worst, either.
    Rafa is very negative and the scary part is, the players he has at his disposal are not, in reality.
    Let’s work it out and see.

    We have a sort of cultured CB in Lejeune alongside a defensive strongman in Lascelles.
    We have two speedy full backs in Yedlin and Manquillo who in normal terms are more than capable of effecting attack and defending due to their pace.
    Basically speaking we have a backline that does not stink of defensive only mindset.
    We have Shelvey who should be more of the playmaker with Hayden as the defensive enforcer.

    Then we have two players that are built for attacking as well as speedy enough to also balance it out in Ritchie and Atsu.

    Then we have Perez who is primarily a forward thinker and Joselu or Mitrovic or Gayle who are obviously of the end product offensive type.

    Now, if you look at all of them regardless of extra squad quality…it’s not what I would class as anything like a defensive set up, yet here we are seeing it employed time and time and time again….even at home.

    That team and squad is more than a match for half that premier league and a match for third of what’s left at the top end.

    All of that match would be in terms of also taking the game to them….but we don’t do that. We rely on the cautious approach which does not reap the dividends expected from that, because to play with that mindset we have to gain things from it and we do not gain enough for it to be acceptable for 80% of the season.
    Brighton, Burnley and Huddersfield, etc should be clear enough as to the cautious approach being unnecessary.

    I could well understand it playing man Utd or Man City and such.
    His argument that we do attack is not really a full on truth.
    Of course we attack but we do not attack with any real end product mindset.

    It’s like the team is a bunch of kids attacking the other kid’s home made fort then looking at each other when three quarters of the way towards attempting to overcome it, then panicking as the other kids shout, ‘charge’.

    Kind of thing lol.

    I know, I know, I’m ungrateful because we have a world class manager and look where we were under McClaren and then Caver and then Pardew and so on and so on.
    The thing is….IF…..and it’s a massive IF…….but IF we played like this for nearly the entire season in thi9s dire defensive type mindset, then ended up getting relegated, would the fan mindset be to blame ashley for being greedy or Rafa for being too negative in his approach?

    I sincerely want Rafa to succeed at Newcastle, I really do but I’ll guarantee you one thing. If he succeeds, it’ll be because he’s managed to really balance the entire team/squad out and not because he stayed too negative, because this negative approach is about as enjoyable as eating a beef paste sandwich whilst cleaning the grime from a sewer.

    I demand to be entertained and I shouldn’t have to be under any bargaining chip ultimatum to be told that you can be entertained as long as you’re prepared to suffer the consequences, because not being entertained can equally make us suffer the consequences, only that route would destroy my mind.

    • Dillon Tovak

      It would be scary if our players weren’t in reality.

    • hetonmag

      If you want to be entertained go and watch Man City who have spent upwards of a Billion pound putting a team together, I want a team that is established in the premier whatever it takes and Rafa is that man in my opinion to put this club in the right place.

  • Rich Lawson

    Yes,we do create chances but have no lethal finisher to convert them in the current 1st choice 11,please santa’ a decent No 9 in the Jan’ window even if we don’t get a No 10 or 3 ?

  • Wor Monga

    Quite frankly this article was more boring than the last 2 games…seeing as the whole world knows what Rafa has had to put up with and which has left him with a weak team to put out in pursuit of points, but he knows his players and he also knows which ones he can trust (and those he cant) to do what he wants pretty much in the way it has to be done in the pursuit of those points…a point at Burnley would have been a good result providing we can win some of our winnable games (Bournemouth) at home, but unfortunately its never an exact science and one simple mistake is all it takes to kill us (or them) off…

    …No!…There are 5 or 6 teams in the league that can go out and take the game to any of the clubs outside of the top group, but we are not one of them and if he attempted to go out and entertain the fans like they are able to then we would be leaving big empty holes at the back for any team in the PL to take advantage of, and believe me they would because the first requirement of staying in the PL is good defensive organisation…and anything more than that will certainly require the help of the TV money and Ashley (or whoever) prepared to back up Rafa in the market…
    …HWL 1 – 0, and the points will do me today!!!

    • hetonmag

      Well said people on here want the best of both world’s Rafa is building slowly but surely.

  • fistsofsteel2

    He’s got to give Mitro a proper run in the team.

    • Paul Patterson

      I’d bet, even if he got suspended for three games, Mitrovic would score more in seven games than Joselu has in 10.

      • Geordiegiants

        Mitro has proved time and time again he isnt good enough. Gayle might be worth a shot, but Mitro couldn’t do it in the championship never mind the prem.

  • Paul Patterson

    Being defensive and organised is one thing, persisting with a creative free No10 and a misfiring forward for 10 games is negligent.

    • Angelswithdirtyfaces

      So what great alternative forward option has Rafa got ? Mitro’s dodgy discipline, strike rate, and preference for a twin striker set up, as he has in his national squad, is probably no better

  • Dillon Tovak

    We were boring under Pardew, McClaren and Carver and we used to never win.
    Rafa can get us some points and incrementally improve the squad, games will improve as a spectacle as a result inevitably.

    • Lhc

      Was the season we finished 5th boring narrowly missing out on champions league, And the following season with a europa league run ending in the quarter finals in benfica via Belgium France naa mate it wasn’t

      • Dillon Tovak

        But from Christmas the season after finishing fifth we were horrible to watch.

  • Alreet

    We cant have it all just yet. Lets be organised and deal with any injuries and performance levels and the goals will come.

    Weve had to play a semi resurgent palace. A dominant liverpool and a tight as you like burnley in the last few games and still only been beaten once.

  • Lhc

    Drab football, if I was mitro I would be straight to him after this game asking why never no game time or starts, he’s our best striker by far. Also very embarrassing at the full time whistle with the vocal reaction of certain fans having a melt down, get a grip man, 11 games 14 points is a good return for our mainly championship squad bar Shelvey Ritchie mitro and maybe Lascelles on his day.

    • Geordiegiants

      Is that the same Mitro that couldn’t score in the championship.

      • Lhc

        Perfect respons that if he had been given a good solid run of games! It’s the same Mitro who scored 9 in the season before in a relegated side feeding of scraps.

        • Geordiegiants

          If he is a decent prem striker then why is there not a host of premier clubs trying to buy him when he is clearly not wanted at Newcastle?

  • Angelswithdirtyfaces

    Until we have more quality at the front it’s inevitable that Rafa has to try to follow a damage limitation approach – the guys are just not good enough going forward or getting it in the net. You win some , you lose some.

  • Geordiegiants

    I agree with the author about Ritchie.
    Rafa is simply doing the best he can with what he has.