Saturday was far short of this Rafa Benitez first choice Newcastle team
There is no getting away from the fact that the Newcastle team on Saturday fell a long way short of what is needed in the Premier League.
After a fairly even opening, from the 19th minute when Will Hughes scored, it never looked like United would get back in the game.
Following the final whistle Rafa Benitez blamed mistakes costing Newcastle, rather than an overall lack of quality.
However, I do think it needs saying, that for all the disappointment, this was nowhere near the manager’s ideal Newcastle team.
This is not to say that Newcastle would have a great team whoever was available from this current squad BUT there is no arguing with just how weak a choice the manager had against Watford.
I make it that in his ideal Newcastle team, Rafa would have changed half the outfield players on Saturday.
This is how I think Rafa Benitez would line up at this moment in time, with everybody available:
Having Mohamed Diame in midfield instead of Mikel Merino really sums it up.
Even having the extra pace and mobility of Isaac Hayden in midfield in this different formation, would have enable Newcastle to do far better in dealing with what was a very quick and talented Watford side going forward, instead Rafa had to rely on the plodding Joselu up front.
Murphy did ok on Saturday but little doubt Christian Atsu would have started ahead of him.
Whilst at left-back the steady but unspectacular Paul Dummett may not be a long-term answer but far far better than Manquillo.
Maybe most importantly, we saw Lejeune feeling the strain a bit in these last two difficult matches, just how much more would Jamaal Lascelles have given as both a player and captain?
Newcastle’s first team are no world beaters but having to rely on five squad players to step up was always going to be a massive ask against a Watford team committed to attack, with pace on top of that.
I don’t see how anybody can judge Rafa on the team he was forced to rely on yesterday against one of the league’s best attacks. Only Manchester City (16) have scored more goals away from home than the 15 Watford have now scored.
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