There comes a time in everybody’s life when you just can’t do what you used to be able to do.

For some of us it is not being able to run faster than your kids, for others it’s not being able to touch your toes.

For Rafa Benitez it is not being able to manage in the Premier League.

Now before I go on, I would like to say that he is the right manager, but at the wrong time.

At the right time his management would be the cherry on the top, the final piece in the jigsaw. At the moment he is contributing to our club becoming a jigsaw – broken and in pieces.

I don’t subscribe to him being this amazing manager like some people on here do. I think he was at his best when he tried to keep us up the first time round. At first it was amazing to have a manager who had won trophies with a great Liverpool team who contained top class players. In that first season we became a better team and nearly stayed up. However, since then it’s been pretty average in my opinion.

The championship winning season was lucky to say the least, as Brighton imploded and Huddersfield ran out of steam. Many teams came to SJP and did well. It was only our away form that took us up and it was obvious then that there was no effective plan for home games.

Fast forward to this season and nothing has changed. We are still trying to play on the break against teams who come and wipe the floor with us. At this point let’s just look at Brighton and Huddersfield, who are small clubs with players no better than ours, but with more adaptable managers in my opinion.

On Saturday Brighton picked up a point at home to in-form Burnley and Huddersfield have hammered Watford 4-1 away from home. Watford! The same team who could have had six against us. At home!!! We have lost yet again and are now in the bottom three.

Anybody who watches the game will see a side totally lacking confidence without a clue about how to stick together or play together as a team. I wonder how they feel when they are constantly reminded about how substandard they are and how their manager was disappointed not to replace half of them in the summer.

Well I know the answer to that – they demonstrate it every Saturday.

So what’s the answer?

At the moment I don’t think there is an answer. I think Rafa is going to get lucky and get away with his poor management of the team because of the ongoing sale fiasco. I think one way or another he is going to get the chance to buy his way out of trouble rather than manage his way out of it. But ultimately he hasn’t done anywhere near enough to be lauded the way he is.

Rafa Benitez has a similar record to Pardew and Carver and the bus driver in the EPL and his team in the championship were nowhere near as entertaining as Hughton’s.

My worry is that he has adopted the mindset of “I told you we needed new players” rather than trying to get the best out of them, despite what he says.

Can Mitrovic really only come on in the last minute when the game is lost?

Has he ever heard of 3-5-2?

Does Diame really deserve to play?

Not impressed Rafa. Not impressed at all.

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  • Dillon Tovak

    Rafa was at his best a season and a half ago but is now magically a bad manager, past it. What a stupid, nonsensical thing to say.
    Fickle fickle fair weather fans we have, will probably be chanting “Rafa, Rafael” next year, pretending we stick by people through thick and thin.
    We only want a team that tries, and entertains, and wins….by 4 goals. 🙄

    • GToon

      I wasn’t impressed by last year either. We had a great squad but went up despite our home form/tactics. We put six past QPR but who did we put 4 past?

      • Danimal

        Reading, Rotherham, Birmingham and Norwich, off the top of my head.

        • GToon

          Ok fair enough but when the better teams played us we didn’t do too well. Fulham, Sheff Wednesday, Wolves, Huddersfield all beat us convincingly at SJP. Anyway I just didn’t think we made the statement of a team ready to take on the EPL. I didn’t like the tactics and they haven’t changed even though the quality of opposition has and the results would suggest a change is needed.

          • Dillon Tovak

            I’ll agree that there was a massive emphasis on first time promotion at any cost, which meant we didn’t take risks and implement a decent playing philosophy.

          • GToon

            Yeah the playing philosophy is vital in a squad like ours. The late Brian Clough used to turn players who had seen better days or were very average into winners under his approach. It was hilarious when he sold them to say Man Utd and they were useless as they only knew the Clough way of playing. We need a Rafa style and at the moment it hasn’t been found.

    • Mrkgw

      When we play well, supporters will quite rightly applaud. When poor, they have every right to say so – they pay sufficient money following this club. But of course, there will always be a nucleus of happy clapping sheep and MA knows and has exploited this.

    • Leazes Ender

      Some first time posters…. I smell a rat…. or is it a cat?

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    The Fans are still behind Rafa even though most of his team selections are a bit wacky. the guy`s to stubborn & biased against certain players, yet who`s to say the results would have been better if he`d included, Mitro, Memba & Clark to name but 3

    • Paul Patterson

      Yeah, but he hasn’t and the results still keep going the way they are. To not play our TOP Premier League goal scorer (getting sick of saying that) is madness . .

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        I agree

    • GToon

      I’m behind Rafa too but I don’t think he’s the right manager at this point. I think he’s running out of patience with the squad. That won’t help. You could almost guarantee if he left and a new bloke came in then there would be an immediate upturn in results. Now I’m not saying that would be the right thing to do in the long term. We need Rafa to take us from middle to top six. He isn’t the bloke to fight a relegation battle in my opinion.

      • Danimal

        Same as me. I’d prefer the club run properly and Rafa as manager but ‘new manager bounce’ might keep us up (just). That’s fine as long as the takeover then happens, or we’ll be trying ‘new manager bounce’ every five minutes, like them down the road.

  • Marco

    What an idiot! It’s like giving a tradesman a job to do then saying but were only goi g to give you half a toolkit. Of course he can use the excuse he wasn’t given the players he asked for. One things for sure if he was backed 100% then there’s no way we would be in this position and fans like yourself who thing we would be better without one need to do one. There isn’t a better manager available at this time and if you think there is please enlighten us

    • GToon

      But there are certain tools that aren’t being used!

      • Leazes Ender

        Joselu is a spanner….. he is being used.

        • GToon


      • Marco

        Im Guessing your referring to mitro? Hes not good enough either.

        • GToon

          Arrons, Colback, Mbemba and even Clarke had a spell out of the team for some reason. There isn’t a settled side or an adaptable pattern of play.

  • Phil

    What a pathetic article. Rafa can no longer manage in the premier league?? I accept he has made mistakes in the transfer window. That is going to happen to any manager. Especially when you are having to search for quality and rock bottom prices. Trying to convince better players that your club is actually ambitious despite facts saying otherwise.
    We won the championship!!! But you still moan about that. Baffling!
    3-5-2?? Who exactly would you play as our LWB?
    Rafa is not to blame. Biggest mistake he has made is coming here in the first place. We are a championship club due to Mike Ashley. Cheap advertising blasted all over. Ludicrous decisions at top level and bargain transfers over God knows how many years.

    • GToon

      LWB = Arrons

    • Leazes Ender

      I don’t know why Rafa hasn’t walked…. apart from his £5m wage….. maybe waiting for a pay off….. while Nero Ashley fiddles and United burn…. a mexican standoff. Ashley is a figurehead of resistance to the deadly duo.

      Rafa knew the (lack of) quality he was bringing in, and it is so painful to watch this Championship side being torn apart. Quality missing in every department…..

      ….so is it Rafa being strung along by Ashley or are the Fans being strung along by both? If Rafa is puts up with this rubbish in January and doesn’t walk, we’ll know

      Nobody counts the Championship title as anything much…. there was no street party no parade….. embarrassing we were there at all…. better to win the darn thing than come up in a play off though.

    • mentalman

      Dummett haidara manquillo atsu aarons

  • Liam Davis

    He is average. Done well at Valencia then was handed job after job on a plate. He’s failed with more big clubs than he’s succeeded with. The fact his Madrid were stuffed 4-0 off Barca at home then when Zidane came in they beat Barca at the nou camp with 10 men says it all. Boring, negative, defensive tactics everywhere he goes. 10 men behind the ball constantly. Which is why Ronaldo told the president it’s him or Benitez who goes.

  • J R Thirkeld

    Well that articles takes the cake for the largest pile of tripe this site has published recently.

    Of course we could be doing better, and that is an understatement but he can only manage the players we have got, and a large number of them are championship at best. I can certainly understand the authors annoyance at the late subs, but Rafa sees these players day in and day out so knows far better than any author in the Mag.

    • GToon

      But look at Brighton and Huddersfield. Have they both got better squads than us? How old is Glenn Murray, who leads the line for Brighton? Are their managers better than ours?

  • Anni Selby

    Rafa knows what he is taking about is total backing you lot would agree,when you have a utterly trash owner like Ashley.Cashley the fat pig,not just he is holding back NUFC,he and con party made people work at his sports where house,s and not got paid.Ashley is a coward.

  • Alreet

    All fans are fickle. They all want entertainment and for the team to try each week. Thats the least isnt it.

    The only problem is and its been said over and again. We are dealing with lower league players. Does anyone really think that any of our squad would get into a top 8 squad. If the answer is maybe or possibly then you have to look at it harder.

    Rafa maybe stubborn but he has managed some of the top sides in europe. You think if he leaves tomorrow he will be out of work for long.

    Its alright saying hows about managing the best out of the team. That wouldnt be a bad idea but that does take a fair amount of time.

    How long has dyche been at burnley or howe been at bournemouth. It takes a long time to get everything clicking if you dont have a reasonable set of players. We can add 3 or 4 to this squad and make it work loads better but theres no one that can turn a game or really dominate at the moment.

    Give him a fair purse in Jan and see where we are in march. I know we will get running again but the fat ash has really got his grubby hands in every centimeter of the club.

    Once we are sold there will be a huge buzz and the team will pick up.

    • mentalman

      There’s very few fans who think we’ll be in the top 8 so why would our players be good enough to get in top 8 squads

      Dont forget we are a newly promoted club

      • Alreet

        Its not about being top 8 its about the quality of players that ppl dont seem to get or think is a big deal.

        • thewildchimp

          The lads aren’t as bad as people make them out to be. Some, yes, but there are also some good ones. The problem is – you know and they know that it doesn’t matter how they perform – they are either gonna play or warm the bench by the default. Do we really need Mo or Perez offensively or defensively? Would it hurt to start two forwards as it is plain obvious that we don’t have any forward capable of playing as

          a lone striker on this level. Maybe Mitro, but I’m stretching it.

          Bottom line is – our players don’t have the mentality to play free, fluid Spanish football. Why would they? They live and play in England.

    • Leazes Ender

      I’d forgo entertainment for victories Arsenal did for years, and it didn’t do them any harm…. Win equals smileyface.

      • Alreet

        Agreed. We really need to go back to a few bore draws and maybe catch them out at the death.

        Team selection is a big thing and we all think we know better but rafa may see more in training. I respect his ideas more than most.

        If this had been pards or macca he would be gone. Thats correct but its rafa and he has more on the first line of his CV than the others put together.

    • GToon

      Your last sentence is the most important one and I think Rafa is clinging to that thought too but that’s not helping us at the moment.

  • mentalman

    I agree that him constantly criticising the quality of th team isnt helping.

    However to compare our result and huddersfields results against Watford doesnt prove anything, we played them when they were on a great run and they are now in a bit of a blip and had a player sent off early on.

    I dont want rafa sacked, i want a manager who is going to put everything to the side and play his best team and use the best tactics and get the most out of the squad if rafa can start doing that then great but if he can’t start doing it then he needs to be replaced

    I think he’s trying to make a point and scrape by until a new owner comes in and then he’ll start again. Unfortunately i think that will come too late

    • Damon Horner

      Problem is that his best team and formation is down to individual opinions, I could understand if Messi was an unused player and that was said.

      • mentalman

        Do you think he’s picking the best first team he can?

        Do you think he’s using the squad the best he can?

        • Damon Horner

          No, because I’d have my own way to approach it but to emphasise, probably for different reasons to you.

  • Fanusmcmanus

    This is the first objective opinion of Benitez I’ve seen. Great managers are able to eke out the best in their squad. Hughton at Brighton has done it this season and he did it last season as well. Wagner changes formation during a match, he’s regularly gone from 5-3-1-1 to 4-3-3. Benitez has only recently started to change his rigid formation recently,bringing on subs in the 77th+ minute when chasing a game at HT?? Perez, Diame consistently under perform but Aarons, Mitro get no look in. Surely by now he should’ve shown his managerial acumen by bringing back to the bench, Colback as cover at least? Totally had it with his blame culture of underspend…and those chanting his name after the team serve up this dross week in, week out.

  • Phil

    So who would people want in??

    You could have Pep as manager with Jose as his assistant and they wouldn’t be doing any better with what we have!

    Top managers 99.9% of the time have money to spend and buy the best players. Those players then make a manger look good. It’s not rocket science.
    You will get the odd exception but that is generally how it goes.

    Football is rubbish. Fickle fans have a MASSIVE part in making it that way

    • GToon

      If he does leave it will be a pullis type manager that we will need rather than want.

  • Tomb

    Absolutely in agreement with this post. Rafa has no plan B. It’s all about sit back and counter attack. We did the same in the championship after spending a fortune. Understandable away to Arsenal but I’ve never seen a Newcastle team set up as deep defensively as I saw yesterday. Diame coming on at 1 nil down was a joke by the way it certainly amused people in the pub where I was watching. Why is Mbemba not playing over Rafas awful signings in defence, he played against West Brom did well and not played since. Mitrovich would have buried the Perez headed chance but oh wait he wasn’t even on the bench. Elliot kept us win the game and it’s Rafa fault for dropping him that we lost to Leicester and Everton. In the last 15 minutes we should have grabbed a undeserved equaliser by lumping it long. West Ham game crucial now. I think they have a quarter final next week so here’s hoping we catch them under par.

  • Mrkgw

    Have to agree with the points put forward in the article which makes good reading. I don’t want Rafa to ‘fail’ but at this point in time he is. Much of it is down to shambolic team selection but look deeper and he has actually bought poorly as well – Murphy, Joselu, Manquillo – none of them inspiring. Meanwhile we see him repeatedly ignoring our ‘international’ striker Mitro, often Shelvey who granted, disgraced himself again, Mbemba and he let go of Anita, Krul and Gouffran. For me, there is enough to begin to question his judgement and currently, the jury is back out.

    • Paul Patterson

      Probably the biggest problem we have is our lack of Premier League experience and you correctly point out that the club (Benitez/Ashley/Charnley or all three) let go of those players you mention. I wasn’t a big fan of either of them, but they ALL had bags of experience in this league and would be aiding our cause to a greater extent than what we are seeing.

      • Danimal

        I’m not blind in my support of Rafa but he was probably led to believe he’d be replacing all three.

        • Damon Horner

          Think there is also an assumption the players didn’t decide to leave themselves.

  • Leazes Ender

    Why can’t you write the word D A M N on this stupid provider.

  • Paul Smith

    There’s a lot being made of our Watford result in light of Huddersfield’s, but when was the last time we had an offside goal, a penalty and an opposition player sent off in the same season, never mind in the same game?

    We’ve not had a penalty or a player sent off against us since 2014 in the premier league (granted we weren’t in it last season). All things even out over the season they say, swings and roundabouts, take the rough with the smooth. Well that’s demonstrably false isn’t it? We simply don’t get the decisions other teams around us do, West Ham and Brighton also got dodgy pens yesterday as well as the trio of decisions Huddersfield took advantage of.

    Curious to see the BBC fail to mention Granit Xhaka’s elbow too, after the hatchet job they did on Mitrovic after the West Ham game.

    I’m not for one minute defending our players, I wouldn’t have argued with any of our reds this season or with Mitrovic’s justified suspension, but it again highlights that we’re not receiving the same treatment from officials or the media.

    • GToon

      That is spot on. We never get the rub of the green. Ever.

  • Tomb

    Also agree with the post about Glenn Murray at Brighton. If he was our striker people would say the manager has worked miracles to get any points at all. Yes it’s a weak squad but other teams get on with it

  • Down Under Mag

    It’s hard, the players are simply not up to the standard required and Rafa, no matter how good he is as a manager, if he isn’t provided the right tools then he is always destined to struggle. He can tell players to play a certain way, or perform a specific role/task that works in with his overall tactical setup BUT if the player just can’t do the job required then it’s going to go horribly wrong. He is the best manager we have had sine Sir Bobby but hasn’t been given the chance to excel because his hands are tied – credit to him for sticking it out and hoping that things will improve, he seems to genuinely want the fans to have some kind of success and he wants to be the one to deliver it.

    Maybe this is all Fatty’s last two finger salute to the fans…hold on long enough to destroy the fans faith in Rafa and watch the club implode one last time just before he jettisons us. Nothing would surprise me.

  • Damon Horner

    I doubt the players come into training everyday thinking they’re top quality, whether Rafa says it or not they’re not that naïve. This team badly needs experience and quality in some areas.

    • mentalman

      David Wagner was asked during a bad run of results about the quality of his squad and his response was he was he had full belief in every player and they were all capable of competing in this league.

      Rafa is the only manager in the bottom half i have seen question the quality of the players they have available

      • Damon Horner

        He’ll have his say behind closed doors. Best thing to do when your ability is questioned is to prove you have the ability the manager/fans/media say you lack. I don’t agree with Rafa doing it but if that’s the reason the players are poor then they need better character.

        • Keeganontherebound

          Spot on. Whatever happened to going out on the pitch and proving your manager wrong!?

          • Damon Horner

            Exactly. Fans think they can take stick and boos but not the manager saying he wants to strengthen a struggling side, if they can’t handle that then they shouldn’t be elite on their field.

  • Tony English

    ….ok let’s follow your skewed logic and just concentrate on comparing us to Brighton and Huddersfield for the moment.

    You won’t credit Benitez for last season as “Brighton imploded and Huddersfield ran out of steam” would it not be even handed to then look at their managers or lack if depth in their squads for those failings? If your praising their managers…then it must be lack of quality in their squads…but you won’t allow Benitez that excuse.

    Comparing results on a “they beat Watford and Watford beat us” basis is the logic of a juvenile fan, it doesn’t work that way…we beat Stoke and Palace at home, Brighton got two draws…we won at Swansea, Huddersfield lost there…we drew at Liverpool, Brighton conceded 5, Huddersfield lost 3-0…we lost to one goal at Arsenal, Huddersfield were battered 5-0…feel free to analyse that data and come up with whatever conclusion fits your argument.

    The only way you can compare the three clubs is we’re all a little short for this division, and as it currently stands if any of us stay up it will be by the skin of our teeth without further investment.

    So Rafa is keeping it tight and hoping we squeak through, and the other two “implode or run out of steam” we will lose more games by the odd goal, the other two will be on the end of more hidings, so at least our goal difference may save us.

    • Paul Patterson

      Goal difference will only be relevant if we have enough points to allow it to be relevant. It will be pointless having a decent goal difference if we are points adrift of teams.

      • Tony English

        Yes. I am aware of how goal difference works!

        The issue being we have little or no flair, as it costs money, so keeping it tight and organised is our only option right now.

        Look at Burnley, organised on a budget, almost every game is a one nil that could have tipped the other way, much like the decent season we had under Pardew. Without finances or great youth coming though that’s the BEST you can hope for.

        The tiniest margin making the difference between finishing 8th and 18th.

        • GToon

          Tony I think we are the only team that play that way. Our squad depth and quality are similar to Brighton and Huddersfield but they are being managed better than ours. If you are in work tomorrow what would you say if your boss openly said he wanted to replace you ASAP? How would you feel if you were Colback, Mitro or Mbemba?

          • Tony English

            I did reply, but the admin are looking at one ‘barely’ naughty word. Sure it will turn up at some point.

          • GToon

            That’s nothing mate! I spent about ten minutes typing a reply to you then the webpage went wrong, reloaded and I lost my reply! To cut a long story short I’m just a bit worried Rafa is getting it wrong at the moment. January might be our salvation, who knows. I’m not happy about how he has treated some of our players though who he wanted to move on in the summer. If they are still there I think he should use them instead of what he has done to Colback, Mitro etc

          • Tony English

            Hello again. It appears my long answer disappeared.

            I don’t think we’re the only team who plays this way, Burnley are certainly similar.

            You’d have to watch Brighton and Huddersfield every week at the same level you watch Newcastle to comment on their squad utilisation, but H’field have shipped 3 4 and 5 away from home this season, the fans would be in real uproar of that was us.

            I am the boss, so it wouldn’t happen to me! But I know what it’s like when a client wants to move on, it’s just how it is.

            Mitro and Mbemba are labourers, called up and onsite when needed, if they worked harder and followed instruction better they’d be utilised more.

            Colback was told to look for another job, that’s the managers choice.

            I dont buy the constant theme of Rafa being stubborn or holding grudges I often read here, there is no proof of that, and unless your inside the camp or a mind reader there is no way of knowing that.

          • GToon

            Well I think Colback should be in the match day squad. He’s a decent fullback and cover for midfield too. He’s certainly better than Manquillo in my opinion. Huddersfield press high and don’t let teams settle. That kind of effort is appreciated by their fans and would be by ours if we played like that. I don’t like watching the way we play unde Rafa. It’s not very “Newcastle” to me. We attack teams at SJP. We might not win them all but we have a go. Teams like Bournemouth shouldn’t be pushing for the winner at SJP, they should be hanging on.

          • GToon

            I also seriously believe that Rafa is starting to lose some of the players. It could be the results, the rotations, the comments or whatever but things certainly are not good at our club.

        • Paul Patterson

          Fair enough, but what we are doing isn’t working and hasn’t for nine games. It would be silly to keep repeating it.

    • GToon

      Well ok then if you can’t cope with comparisons between clubs have a look at the league table.

      • Tony English

        It’s no about me not being able to cope, it’s just a stupid premise that you can easily shoot holes through.

        I agree, let’s look at the league table….at the end of the season when we’ve played the same number if games against the same opposition….but then will you still turn around and say Rafa was lucky?

  • Damon Horner

    Guardiola says he wants new signings in January as well. His team are 14 points clear and not in bottom three.

  • Nut

    I honestly think alot of our defeats have been Rafa high lighting the inadequacies of the side so that Ashley has no excuses for not investing in January. That’s brinkmanship on the side of Rafa, playing Ashley at his own game.

    Hopefully it will turn out well and Ashley will invest come January to avoid another successive relegation from the premier league. He would be stupid not to tbh especially if he wants to sell the club.

    Rafa is equally capable just as Hughton at Brighton and so the weakness in the team is the players we have simply being outclassed on the pitch/not being luckyboys.

    Hopefully a bit of investment changes this, or Rafa starts to work miracles.

    • 1957

      I personally don’t think he is playing a game with Ashley by losing games to highlight the inadequacy of the players he has mostly bought. If he is he is being negligent with the club’s immediate future, if you were to do that to your own employer would get you sacked

  • Popnbgd

    spot on mate….