Rafa Benitez talks after West Brom 2 Newcastle 2 “Now everybody knows that they can play”
Rafa Benitez rang the changes on Tuesday night, with five players left out who started the 5-0 defeat by Watford.
Some real surprises too, with the likes of Shelvey, Gayle and Elliot all left on the bench.
Two down after 56 minutes following more poor defending, goals from Clark and Evans (own goal) ensuring a point was saved.
Explaining why he made the changes, Rafa Benitez declared ‘When you play the two games in a few days, then you need fresh legs’.
He also reiterated that it was important that squad members felt ‘sure that they will be part of the team, to be part of the season’.
It was predictably a match of very few chances as two poor sides at the bottom cancelled each other out, until Newcastle conceded yet again just on the stroke of half-time. Yedlin ball watching and when a diagonal pass went over his head the winger was in and crossed easily for the opener.
It was then Yedlin again at fault, at least in part, as his man finished off a cross from the right for the second.
Rafa was very pleased though with the way his team responded, declaring ‘The result shows a very positive reaction from the players and character too’.
A run of four defeats in a row at least brought to a halt, now it is Chelsea away…
“When you play the two games in a few days, then you need fresh legs,
“For everyone, they need to be sure that they will be part of the team, to be part of the season, and they need to know that they can help the team.
“Now everybody knows that they can play.
“The reaction of the team was really good and we saw again that they care, they reacted, they were working very hard, as soon as we scored the first goal we were back in the game.
“We could have won the game because we were in control but it was a question of time, as to whether we could create some chances – but there was not enough time to get the third goal.
“The result shows a very positive reaction from the players and character too.
“It is very positive, as was the way we played in the last minutes.
“Obviously we can improve, we have to improve, but still at least you could see character, workrate, reaction, commitment – a lot of positives and some good play.
“I didn’t think we deserved to lose the four games but that is something you cannot change (now),
“With this bad run, reacting the way we were reacting, and showing the character we did, shows something very very positive for the future.
“We obviously know it (Chelsea on Saturday) will be very difficult but the reaction of the team means we can be positive in terms of how we approach that game.
“We know that we can do well and it is just a question of staying focused, staying concentrated, and not making the mistakes that we did against Manchester United, who are a top side.
“Against them we played really well but then made a couple of mistakes…
“Now, it is a learning process but hopefully it can help the team.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
West Brom 2 Newcastle 2
Newcastle: Clark 59, Evans (OG) 83
West Brom: Robson-Kanu 45+1, Field 56
Possession was West Brom 48% Newcastle 52%
Total shots were West Brom 8 Newcastle 14
Shots on target were West Brom 4 Newcastle 4
Corners were West Brom 1 Newcastle 6
Referee: Lee Probert
Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lejeune, Mbemba, Ritchie, Hayden (Shelvey 80), Merino, Murphy (Aarons 64), Perez, Joselu (Mitrovic 73)
Elliot, Manquillo, Gayle, Diame
Crowd: 25,534 (Newcastle 2,600)
(Read the reaction from NUFC fans/writer to the West Brom match HERE)
(Alan Shearer ‘Feared the worst’ – Read HERE)
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