Get your daily update and weekly newsletter by signing up today!


Rafa Benitez gets defensive…as questions are asked

4 years ago

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.”


If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]

Have your say

© 2022 The Mag. All Rights Reserved. Design & Build by Mediaworks