For Newcastle United coming up against a marauding Manchester City side that had scored a staggering 60 goals in 19 games, on a 17 game winning streak in a busy midweek December Fixture, was always going to be a tough match up.

Rafa Benitez already had to be mindful of an injury/recovery list that had claimed important players. Not to mention the next run of three games being ever so crucial to the club’s survival fortunes.

As much I would have liked Rafa to retain Saivet, he stuck to horse for courses with Mbemba coming in to counter the pace factor and Dummett providing better defensive security cover for Manquillo on the left to curtail Bernado Silva. Joselu was the lone forward up front as an outlet for long clearances. Gayle, Atsu and Ritchie were rested with Brighton in mind.

When you come up against a top side like Manchester City, that has been unprecedented in how it has dominated the Premier League, it would be literally foolhardy to go toe to toe with them and look to take it to them. Not in the first half anyways.

Rafa played it no differently than anyone knowing his situation would have expected. Lack of investment in a Championship pedigree side with good honest players but lack of star quality to be able to make that extra bit of difference, dictated how he would approach the game.

Rather than get upset with commentators like Neville or Carra who wouldn’t have the Cojones to step in to that role, I would commend the disciplined manner this side played with. The level of mental concentration with the back to the goal and ability to play to a strategy right down to its last detail was impressive to say the least. With Diame breathing down De Bruyne’s neck, it did affect his rhythm and showed when he tried to force the issue in a couple of skied attempts.

The game plan to me was fine with trying to hold the fort up to the 60th minute and then start pushing through. Manchester City never really were able to break  Newcastle through the middle. With the exception of over the top lobs that could have been negated if not Dummett playing Aguero onside – but understandable given his lack of match fitness.

It would have been a good first half if not the goal that turned out to be the match winner. Elliot had pulled off a super save prior but could he have done better by fully securing his near post? We will never know but we have asked the question more than a couple of times this season.

As much as Rolando Aarons hasn’t had the opportunity this season, I was expecting him to do better. There were a couple of moments when the team got a chance to break through but he ended overplaying his passes. It’s a difficult predicament to be in with not many games in your stride, hopefully he continues to put in work and get the nod.

The complexion of the game changed when Gayle and Atsu came on. Hindsight, I am tempted to consider what might have been if both of them started, especially Atsu. In my opinion, Atsu runs and plays the counter better. He was able to stretch Man City’s defence and easily added more thrust with his pace and ease on the ball. The cross to Gayle under pressure was on the money. Merino as well was able to find the runs of Yedlin.

It’s a shame that Newcastle couldn’t nick a goal, but the last two games have given so much of a feel good factor. More importantly, looks like it’s coming back together to where they were earlier in the season in terms of defensive discipline and organisation, with Lascelles’s return playing a big part.

That makes it so much easier for the midfield to play their part in pushing forward.

Let the takeover not be a distraction anymore, it will happen when it happens, but additions should be done whether they are loans or permanent buys.

I’m sure Rafa will be able to turn this around when he’s finally backed in the right manner.

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  • Toonrobbybobson

    Aarons isnt as good as people think. He could be good but thats a long way away.

    Simple fact remains is newcastle best place for him? Probably not being truthful. At present we cant afford to field youngsters and Aarons is Mr Glass. He needs a full season playing.

    IF and this is a big IF the funds were released and it was a good fee id sell. But thats only IF its a good fee and it goes towards a player who improves our squad NOW.

    In perfect world we’d be able to afford to let the lad go on loan tk learn and get toughened up match fitness wise but even now for me he is a fair way behind Atsu.

    • Phil Yare

      i can’t understand your assessment when we have utter garbage in the squad.
      if he gets another long term injury then fair enough – his career is over before its started BUT he deserves one more chance and he looks like he belongs on a football field far more than murphy, diame and joselu

      • Toonrobbybobson

        When hes come on since his injuries hes not realy done anything. I dont count he league cup which for his goals wasnt very good with the ball (if that makes sense).

        Hes never really stood out. I know he had a couple of good games prior to the injuries but he really should be staking his claim NOW if hes to do it.

        But young players NEED games. If we cant or arent going to give we would be better served putting the funds towards a player who can come in now. Hes not going to get by Atsu at present Atsu is better.

        • Toonrobbybobson

          Also against City he should have finished that chance. Harsh maybe but he fluffed it a bit.

          Good young players tend to come in and go bang. If not he needs to go out on loan if we bring bodies in. If we dont he isnt going to be first choice here. So hes a bit trapped.

        • Phil Yare

          it didn’t make any sense mate. but who has stood out in recent times? nobody. not one player weve had in recent times is worthy of getting their name printed on a replica shirt

  • 1957

    Aarons will be on his way, when he first broke through he look a decent prospect, but he has gone backwards through injuries and off field distractions. Benitez wouldn’t play him in front of Atsu on a regular basis and is more likely to buy another winger, he doesn’t promote young players often.

  • Phil Yare

    i don’t know what you expected of aarons?! he’s never had a sniff of first team action recently then gets thrown in against the best team in the world unfit and with a history of injuries
    the only piece of quality from an outfield toon player came when he beautifully lobbed their keeper but denied by the defender on the line
    Diame, shelvey, joselu and murphy give the ball away continuously…so did you not expect better of them?

    hes one of the few players with quality in the squad and the last thing the lad will need is criticism when he was put in a overwhelming situation

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Hes played against City younger and done alright. Problem is consistency. If players are doing it in training and backing it up in games they’ll get chances. Aarons needs to stop off field stuff and concentrate on his football. Hes known as a bit of a big time charlie. He can be that after his career if he wants.

    • Charlie Dickens

      Spot on. Wouldn’t have bothered with my lengthy post just now if I’d read this first.

  • mentalman

    He hasnt played much recently and the way we were playing didnt suit his strengths.

    He needs to go out on loan for the rest of the season and play regular football

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Ideally yes but that weakens our squad. Only if we had funds for a better quality squad could we do that. If a good quality offer comes in I reckon hes gone. Sad state of affairs.

      • mentalman

        We could send him out on loan for the rest of the season and have a much more developed player come back.

        The 5mins he gets at the end of a game could easily be covered by other squad players

        • Toonrobbybobson

          Our problem is our squad cannot afford him to go currently. If we had quality and depth thats exactly what we should be doing.

  • Soldier

    Dont sell him, he has pace & a good shot with either foot. he needs regular football loan him out until May

  • GToon

    I think he’s a good player but he looks like he’s lost a bit of pace after all of his injuries, a bit like Paul Stephenson did. I think putting him out on loan would be a good idea.

  • Stephen Paylor

    I really like Aarons, pace, technically good, hard working and doesn’t fall over as easy as most wingers. I would play him even ahead of Atsu.

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Atsu is way better play

  • Kev-82

    You expected him to do better when he was eventually given a chance in a game we were never likely to get anything from and the players were sent out not to play, harsh. Now if he’d had a game with little contribution against say Brighton tomorrow then fair enough but you cant criticise a young lad coming in against the top team with those tactics.

  • Frank

    Tactics were fine – Rafa picked the bigger/more physical players for the first 60 mins, then stuck on a combination of smaller/faster/less physical/more pacey/creative players to attempt an equaliser/winner. It nearly worked. Better than getting humped 5-0.

  • Geordiegiants

    He looked excellent under Pinocchio, but couldn’t keep fit. I think Rafa has a problem with his attitude, he is a bit of a big time Charlie apparently.

  • Mike Adam

    He will never get the chances that Horselu, Slomo, Perez, and Manquillo get.

    • gallowgate26

      If Atsu were to get an injury, I’d start Aarons on the left. Ritchie for all everyone applauds his workrate, I just don’t think he’s done it in the Premier. Yes he’s hit the woodwork a few times but it’s always ‘close but no cigar’. A lower league player who has come up through the ranks to be a very good championship player but not quite Premier, in my eyes anyway. Murphy is an interesting prospect, he’s been MoTM in some games but other games has looked like a rabbit in the headlights. I would play Aarons and Atsu personally but I think Ritchie is one of Benitez’s undroppables.

      • Toonrobbybobson

        Pretty sure Ritchie has been dropped recently.

        • Damon Horner

          More than once.

        • Mark Potter

          Rested, rather than dropped.

  • Charlie Dickens

    Funny how you’re not allowed to criticise a veteran manager who’s won one out of ten fixtures but a young lad who’s been injured and is thrown into a game against the best team in England with tactics that are hardly conducive to his natural game, or that of any of our more creative players, who caused our best moment of the match with that sublime chip that was cleared off the line, is judged so harshly. When he chased down that long ball in the first half and won a corner, that was better than anything anyone else in a black and white shirt had done up to that point. Yeah, these are hardly achievements but given the paucity of our performance, to single him out is ludicrous. As a fanbase I don’t think we’re fickle but we do get after players too much and unless that’s a protest against the manager picking them, buying them, wasting scant resources on mediocrity, then I don’t see the point in vocally admonishing them. At the very least, Aarons deserves earlier opportunities in games where starters have been ineffective and ideally a run in the side.

    • Mike Adam

      Isn’t it funny Charlie, and your last sentence is so true!

    • Damon Horner

      Agreed and it’s the minority. Aarons won’t be the only inconsistent player to wear the shirt this season.

      I do warn though that as a fanbase we tend to build up expectation of some players as absent superstars so maybe the high expectation is because of that.

      • Toonrobbybobson

        We actually have an awful record with young players. We build them up way too much. They are phased in at other clubs but here we need them instantly. Too often as fans we judge players way too much.

        I still stand by Aarons needing games probably elsewhere but we cant afford that currently. Shocking position we are in as a club.

  • Mayor Vaughn

    I think Aarons looks a decent player no more than that though, he looked a decent player a few years back as well but hasn’t kicked on. Too many injuries, off the field issues etc. Good squad player when fit but needs to stay fit for a good stretch now, cant have many chances left.

  • Megatron1505

    The article isn’t really about Aarons, probably about 5% if it is. The headline is a little deceiving of the content, but it shows how much attention people give to the headline over what is actually written.

  • Mike

    Sorry I wanted to watch a football game. That was utter tripe any other manager would have been hung out t dry

    • How do you expect us to go toe to toe with Man City? That’s insane! We waited for our chance and should have at least equalized. I keep saying the team lacks finishing and experience. We need two players at least in January who can finish and create more chances.

  • Mal

    That team was picked with Brighton in mind. Aarons can’t be judged on that particular game bearing in mind the tactics. Hopefully he gets another chance when more attack minded tactics are employed.