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Garth Crooks insists Newcastle can still be title contenders under Rafa Benitez after Chelsea loss

4 years ago
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Garth Crooks grabbed the headlines back in October when he insisted that Rafa Benitez was capable of challenging  for the title with Newcastle United.

A late Mikel Merino goal had sunk Crystal Palace to put Newcastle on 14 points from nine games and well positioned in the top half of the Premier League.

The claims (read below) of being able to compete for the Premier League title were obviously on the proviso that Rafa Benitez would get the backing (‘resources’) to help to compete: ‘Rafa can win it (Premier League) with the right resources there, I think that highly of him. Can win the title (at Newcastle) with the right resources.’

Six weeks later and Newcastle have picked up only one point from 18 as injuries and the unrelenting nature of the Premier League have exposed a squad that…hasn’t been given enough ‘resources’.

Despite the fall from seventh (and only two points off fourth) to fifteenth (and two points off fourth bottom), Garth Crooks insists Rafa Benitez can still be a title with Newcastle, if getting the right resources. Crooks saying he doesn’t understand why anybody would doubt that after his achievements with Valencia against Barcelona and Real Madrid – winning La Liga twice in three years.

However, Garth Crooks also lives in the real (immediate) world and says ‘The writing is on the wall if additions to the squad are not found in January. These Newcastle hopefuls need more support and Benitez knows it.’

Crooks stating it was ‘men against boys’ at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and ‘I was not in the least bit surprised that Magpies boss Rafa Benitez had a face like thunder after the game and his responses were so clipped.’

For Newcastle fans, this is yet another grim reminder/illustration of just how important this upcoming January window is for Rafa Benitez and the football club, something  which is of course something supporters believe is also intrinsically linked to whether a takeover of the club does actually happen.

Garth Crooks talking to BBC Sport – 3 December 2017::

“When Chelsea played Newcastle it was like men against boys, and Hazard ripped the Magpies apart.

“I was not in the least bit surprised that Magpies boss Rafa Benitez had a face like thunder after the game and his responses were so clipped.

“The writing is on the wall if additions to the squad are not found in January. These Newcastle hopefuls need more support and Benitez knows it.

“I was almost laughed out of BBC’s Final Score studio when I insisted that, given the right resources, Benitez could turn Newcastle into title contenders.

“Why the comment was greeted with such bewilderment, I have no idea. Anyone who knows anything about football should know that Benitez has done it before at Valencia.

“If he can stop football giants like Barcelona and Real Madrid from winning the title, he can certainly do it against both Manchester clubs.

“I must say Chelsea look far more comfortable with Victor Moses back in the side. He not only provides them with far more options, but he can be quite lethal in the opposition’s penalty area.

“Against Newcastle, it was patently obvious what Moses could do when he flashed a bullet-like cross towards Chancel Mbemba. The Newcastle defender appeared terrified by the quality of the cross, diving out of the way and allowing Alvaro Morata to score Chelsea’s second in the 3-1 win.

“Similarly in the second half, it was Moses who forced Ritchie to give away the penalty which resulted in Eden Hazard converting from the spot.

“The run (By Andreas Christensen) from deep inside his own half against Newcastle, prior to feeding Victor Moses a glorious pass inside the path of Matt Ritchie (who had a torrid afternoon), was a real indication of his growth in confidence.”

Garth Crooks – 21 October 2017:

“I think the Newcastle fans think that Rafa Benitez deserves the resources to take them where the fans want to be.

“Which could be a top six side.

“I mean it is a huge club and Rafa Benitez has the pedigree to do something quite special.

“So I think there is no doubt for me, he is a top class manager and they (Newcastle) are lucky to have him.

“I think he is capable….I mean with Keegan they didn’t win anything with Newcastle – but he flirted with the title.

“Rafa can win it (Premier League) with the right resources there, I think that highly of him.

“Can win the title (at Newcastle) with the right resources.”

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