After digesting three defeats for Newcastle United in a week, the one thing that I can’t seem to see/understand (and I’m sure I’m not alone) is the trust put in certain players from manager Rafa Benitez.
Now I’m grateful for such an esteemed manager as Benitez for coming into this madhouse of a club, really I am, but there comes a point where you have to level some fair criticism without being immediately seen to be going overboard or wanting him out the door.
Once again I find myself bringing up the subject of Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Why he isn’t getting more game time is beyond me. This isn’t just a desire to see some chest pumper play, a player who looks like he cares, it’s a reasonable request to see somebody who has scored goals throughout his career (70 in 140 league starts – plus 47 sub appearances. Why is that such a bizarre notion to some fans, and more importantly, our manager.
This is a player, who according to popular belief, isn’t trusted by Rafa, I can take that, honestly I can. The bit I can’t take is the part where we’re struggling for goals and players who have consistently failed are preferred.
The criticism of alleged striker Joselu has been done to death and it’s certainly fair to say that he isn’t a Premier League striker, but in amongst all of the criticism, we saw him score against Leicester City only to find him dropped against Everton. What gives? How can any striker build confidence in himself or even be motivated, when he does the job he is paid to do, only to find himself bombed out the next game? Puzzling to say the least.
One solution, that I don’t believe the manager will try, is to play Mitrovic either from the start (ideally with Gayle), or at least bring him on when there is a game to be won. Then he can get himself sent off and thus prove Benitez right in his judgement, or, and this is an important point, he could actually start scoring a few goals. Both outcomes would put matters to bed, but to persist with the current state of affairs is monotonous madness.
We also have Jonjo Shelvey who has been sent off twice in four months through lack of discipline and was recently dropped by the manager. Cue fans questioning the decision and calling for Rafa to rightly play his best players in order to get us out of this awful run of form.
Now I don’t see Shelvey in a great light anyway, yes he has a cracking right foot on him and can pick a pass out, but without blindingly quick wingers and clinical strikers, nine times out of ten those passes aren’t going to do much good in the Premier league, they are just going to contribute to a higher possession percentage for the opposition.
Will Rafa reinstate Shelvey after his suspension? It wouldn’t surprise me, as his comments made after the Everton game certainly indicate that the manager still trusts his player and doesn’t blame him for the dismissal. So where is this trust justified? How can one player actually SHOW indiscipline and be trusted, yet one can have only a perceived lack of discipline and NOT be trusted?
In similar circumstances, how can players be relied upon week in week out (Joselu, Diame and Perez) when all evidence shows that they are not up to it and continue to let the manager down in his selection, yet another who has performed reasonably well in the past, doesn’t even get the chance to let the manager down?
Put simply, the takeover aside, Rafa Benitez has been wasting games so far and continuing to put his trust in failing players that has got us where we are, in the bottom three. I repeat what I said at the start, I’m grateful for such a man coming to the club and I agree that he’s the best manager since Sir Bobby Robson to take charge, but that shouldn’t make him immune from criticism.
The takeover if/when it happens can right a few wrongs from the summer’s poor recruitment, certainly if there was substantial funds to get us out of the mess that the current owner has had a huge hand in over many years.
However, on the evidence that I’m seeing, the manager needs to put his trust in other players in the squad in the meantime, as the ones he does trust are badly letting him down and he is not seeing it.