Quite what Newcastle fans wanted out of the Manchester City match and what they were realistically going to get, were two different things. If you had offered me a point before the game (no matter how grimly it was achieved) I would have snapped your hands off.

I can’t speak for all Newcastle fans, but I would have thought (correct me if I’m wrong) that 90%+ of them/us, want Mike Ashley to sell the club as soon as possible. As he isn’t doing the best for this club and through general incompetence, has put it in relegation peril for at least the fifth time in eleven years.

Now, to the people criticising Rafa Benitez for negative tactics on Wednesday night- If we had gone out and tried to play even a moderately attacking game against Man City, we almost certainly would have got stuffed. Playing the way we did could have ended up in a heavy defeat anyway, but it didn’t, we could have sneaked a draw. That would have been a massive turn up for the books based on what was widely expected beforehand.

This is because Mike Ashley has downgraded the squad over a long period of time to the point that it will need a lot of money spent on it, and that it is a million miles behind the big boys of this league, and it can’t hope to compete with them.

So what are some Newcastle fans moaning about? This squad has been built on a shoestring and the current manager has set his side up as best he can to get a result against a free spending squad of world beaters. Yet some are criticising the manager. You can’t have it both ways and criticise both entities.

Comparing the two squads, one has had £100m+ spent on it nearly every season for best part of a decade, the other has been chronically underfunded for a decade, with players sold for profit and the profits NOT used to strengthen the already poor side. This outcome was on display, one team fully experienced and functioning at their best this season, vs another that had just been promoted last summer and money not used to build a side that can comfortably compete with the also-rans of this league.

Instead our side is a workmanlike bunch of good Championship players, poor or average Premier League players and a couple of young prospects thrown in.

To come away with a 0-1 defeat is quite frankly a decent effort from all concerned.

If any fan says otherwise then they are seriously deluded and kidding themselves. People need to realise that we simply can’t go toe to toe with sides like Manchester City and expect to beat them at their own game, as their own game is so far above ours it’s scary.

To put it into some sort of perspective, this is essentially a Championship side that has been asked to play against a very good Champions League side. Man City could realistically win the quadruple this season and will more than likely set a record points and goals total by next May and we’ve just limited them to one goal.

I’ve heard comments ranging from the sublime to the outright stupid over the last 24 hours. People are referencing the Keegan era from the 90s where we used to play the sort of Champagne football Man City are now dishing up for their supporters and looking back wistfully on those sort of heady days where we could match the Manchester Uniteds and Arsenals on an even playing field.

That’s fine, keep dreaming. I’d love us to get there I really would, but it definitely won’t happen, unless a takeover gives it at least a chance.

On the other hand, the game has changed. Under King Kev, we were the nice boys of the title race. We didn’t have a nasty streak and we didn’t have a decent tactician as manager. That’s why we didn’t win anything.

As romantic as it was under Kevin Keegan, we never set our side up to ‘get a result’ we simply went out to win every game. This is 2017 and only Manchester City actually do that.

Most sides go to a title rival and ‘park the bus’ to stop said rival getting three points and strangling the title race their way. Jose Mourinho has done it for years and even he is now finding it difficult to get it to work even with hundreds of millions at his disposal. That speaks volumes when the side that’s second in the league is struggling to reign in the Champions elect.

We parked the bus against Man City and heck it nearly worked. Our season won’t be decided against them lot, it’ll be decided against the likes of Brighton on Saturday. Play with the same application and we can beat Brighton, although we will have to be more expansive and attack more against a weaker opponent. Supporters will have to be a little patient if things don’t immediately go our way, as Brighton will no doubt look to take a point at worst, look to nick it as a bonus.

You can look at the manager and wonder why an attacking approach wasn’t used against the lesser lights of the Premier league (a point I’ve made before), but to question why the side was set up to frustrate Man City, is quite frankly absurd.

The top four of this league have World Class managers and bucket loads of money to spend on world class players, we have the former but not the latter.

Until that changes, some fans need to let him get on with his job and stop the uncalled for criticism.

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  • Gareth Marshall

    That was written mainly from the heart and it is mainly spot on. Let’s hope we pick up some points vs Brighton, Stoke and Swansea and move ourselves out of the danger zone.

    Happy new year everyone :)

    • HADGE

      wish they had come out to play.then it would have been 4-5-6 to 0. toon army please stop singing to us where were you when you was sxxx. we all know your history before keegan. CTID

      • Scott wood

        How sad must you be to come onto another fans page and go on like that

        • steelwheelsandflattyres

          Ignore, most City fans don’t think like him, in fact he sounds more like a rag in City clothing just trying to stir it up. He wouldn’t be the first one.

          • ernie whalley

            I’m a Manc, City fan since 1954, living in Dublin these days so, except via TV or a link I don’t get to as many games as I used to. I have a soft spot for NUFC thanks to a bunch of nice Geordies who took the trouble to comfort this broken hearted 14 year old kid (me) after the cup final in ’55. There are a good many parallels that can be drawn between the two clubs (Mike Ashley and the late P.J.Swales could have been blood brothers). We just got lucky with Sheikh Mansoor’s investment.And we have a guy at the controls who I believe is the best, most innovative manager in the game. So we are on the crest of a wave. Teams have tried all sorts of tactics to try and combat us this year and I think its fair to say that nothing, not high pressing, not low pressing, not counter attacking, not bus parking ,has worked. Everton’s very physical approach came closest but we were down to ten men for most of the game. So I can’t, hand on heart, blame Rafa for his tactics and I don’t think NUFC fans should either. But I think you should be honest with yourselves and don’t go banging on about “almost nicked a result”. It City hadn’t wasted so many chances they’d have been out of sight by half time.

          • steelwheelsandflattyres

            Ernie, I’m a City season card holder in CBL3, I’ve been supporting them since the early sixties and like you remember the Swales era as well as you. You are correct, no team, however they set up has been capable of stopping us, but its nice to see the media starting to relent with the total lies they spread and now seem eager to hand out praise towards a club that is actually putting more back into the game and its community than the old Sky four ever did.

            Fans of those four will continue fabricating stories about ffp and transfer fees, but we have more in common with Newcastle, Sunderland, West Ham etc than we ever will with that lot and have no wish to see anyone claiming to be a blue acting like one of those self entitled isteree lovers.

            Enjoy the rest of the season, unlike the red Scousers, this might be our year.

          • ernie whalley

            Agree 100%. I know a load of City fans and, apart from the odd one, mainly younger, nobody has the preposterous sense of entitlement that runs through MUFC fans like the letters in a stick of rock. Plenty of gallows humour, irony to spare, caustic wit and a residue of pain, yes. The phrase “typical City ” is still in our lexicon.

  • andynufc

    What are you dribbling about? The vast majority of fans backed Rafa and his tatics on Wednesday. It wasn’t pretty but nufc fans understood what he was trying to do. It’s sky and it’s minions that were twisting on.

  • mactoon

    I wasn’t aware it was Newcastle fans who were criticising the tactics, I thought it was the TV ‘pundits’ like Carragher and Gary Neville who were blasting Rafa for setting up the team to get a point from a match. Because Man United never do that do they Gary…

    • Steven05

      I could only only watch it on the telly, Gary Neville went way over the top, calling us an embarrassment etc. Not sure what he thought Rafa should have done differently to try and get something

      • Leazes Ender

        You didn’t see it unless you were there, the close ups didn’t show how United were set up….. it was shocking!

  • Anita kick up the Hoop

    Don’t have an opinion … just Baaa

    • anyobrien

      Here we go baa bloody baa ffs man get a grip

      • Anita kick up the Hoop

        Man city was just Rafa on steroids .. the negativity is amplified but nothing new .. if we were playing Stoke Rafa’s mindset is the same… and that’s the point .. we need to go for it in our next three fixtures .. no excuses!

        • anyobrien

          Aye next three but not at home against the best football team on the planet…. They gave spurs a lesson.

          • Anita kick up the Hoop

            Not one person expected us to go toe to toe with City .. but the point is we took Rafas natural negative mindset to another level .. and the accumulative effect from almost all of our other games regardless of the opposition hit a tipping point .. Rafa can get away with pulling up the draw bridge vs City BUT he can’t afford to be negative against the likes of Brighton, Swansea, Stoke, Huddersfield and Everton .. the genie is out of the bottle and should we drop points in fixtures against non oil rich multi zillionaire clubs through negative tactics then Rafa will come under the spotlight in a way he hasn’t yet in his time here!

  • Steven05

    Excellent article. I do think they are a few fans that are trying to have it both ways: Complain about the supplier giving insufficient ingredients, then complaining about the chef not serving up a 1st class meal

  • Mayor Vaughn

    Excellent article, some of the negative comments on here yesterday were bordering on the ridiculous. Some people sound like entitled spoilt kids.

  • GeordieZebra

    Reasonable and logical summary. Anybody who thinks otherwise is unrealistic and a clown. Go and support City or PSG from afar if you think we should go toe to toe with these guys with essentially a championship squad.

    • Dave Pattinson

      Agreed zebra. Rafa had to adopt a pragmatic approach & do the best with what is available. 0-1 to Citeh and less damage to morale before B’ton & Stoke than a cavalier approach and losing 0-5. Think most criticism came from Neville & cosy chums in the media, and I can’t see Rafa worrying about comments from proven failed coaches or those who daren’t/can’t coach.

  • ghostrider

    “You can look at the manager and wonder why an attacking approach wasn’t used against the lesser lights of the Premier league (a point I’ve made before), but to question why the side was set up to frustrate Man City, is quite frankly absurd.”

    I have every right to question it because I pay a fortune every season supporting this club and I expect the team I support to take the game to the opposition no matter who they are…..especially at home.

    I do not expect to ever hear the words “set up to frustrate” or “park the bus” at home….EVER, no matter who the team is.

    The players and manager are paid ridiculous amounts of money to ENTERTAIN fans.
    Don’t tell me that my hard earned money is only deserving of watching a team I do not support (Man City) batter the team I do support (Newcastle United) into submission for the fun of it.

    Frustration wasn’t Man City, it was me frustrated at how a sickeningly overpaid manager can set up a team to play disgusting gutless football.

    There’s nothing absurd about wanting my team to have a go for 90 minutes….not 10 minutes.

    • anyobrien

      Stop going then, All managers employ different tactics to different opposition… Toe to toe with City would of been madness.

      • ghostrider

        No, I’ll carry on going because I support Newcastle United through thick and thin and have done for all but the too young years of my life.
        I am entitled to have my say whether you like it or don’t like it.
        I am entitled to berate the manager and the players if I feel they’re not producing what I expect them to produce.
        I’ll also praise them for producing what I expect them to produce.

        Very few games this season have they produced what I expect and most of that reason is more down to the manager than the actual players….because they do one thing 99% of the time, which is, they produce EFFORT and commitment for the manager.

        That’s all well and good if the manager is setting them out in the right way…..Rafa is rarely setting them out in the right way and needs a kick up his aris or sacked.

        • anyobrien

          Sacked!…. And who do you want to replace him.

          • ghostrider

            Any manager that has the ability to set out a football team to have a go at the opposition but be balanced enough to also see out a 90 minute plus game.
            I really don’t care about the name of that manager, as I said earlier.

          • Headless

            You do know that a manager is only allowed to select players from his own squad don’t you?

          • ghostrider

            Yeah but weirdly he refused to do so and that’s why we have players left to rot and players sent out on loan.
            Imagine if the arrogant git used what he had or coached them enough to show what they can do.
            Only now does he bring in players that he left out to rot….why?

            We have a player that is a bit of a loose cannon but can be worked with and who loves this club, in Mitrovic and yet Rafa can afford to leave him out and not trust him because Rafa’s mindset is not on using a player like him and preferring to go defensive.

            Only allowed to select from his own squad indeed.

          • glassjawsh-got-banned

            at least your gross misunderstanding of football and finance is entertaining

          • ghostrider

            Aye, football is such a scientifically complicated game, isn’t it?
            What a joke lol.

          • anyobrien

            So basically you have not got a answer…. You can’t think of anyone manager in the world at all that would satisfy your every whim. But there you moaning and groaning stamping your feet.
            Like it’s been said you’d twist on 21.

          • ghostrider

            My every whim?
            I want a team that sets out balanced enough to do the job that football is all about. Score more than the opposition and entertain whilst you can.

            I don’t see that answer in Benitez and I could pick out any amount of run of the mill managers that would give it a decent go, even the most reserved managers would look more positive than Rafa.

          • anyobrien

            Let’s have some then

          • ghostrider

            Name any manager and you’ll have one.

          • anyobrien

            Aye your proven to be exactly what I and the vast majority on here think…. You must be very embarrassed.

          • ghostrider

            You got your answer and It’s not me that’s embarrassed.

          • Steve

            Gary neville would have attacked citeh!!!

          • ghostrider

            I’m not interested in what Gary Neville would have done. I’m interested in what the manager of Newcastle United does to have ago and make the game enjoyable for the fans in the process.

        • Kneebotherm8

          If we’d went for it and got stuffed,you’d be complaining he hadn’t tightened things up.
          You’re one of those who would “Twist on 21”

          • ghostrider

            If we went for it and got stuffed I’d have said. ” well, we went for it and give them a few scares but at least we had a go even though they stuffed us in the end.”

            Would I be gutted?
            Would I get over it?
            Would I be proud we had a go?

            Now look at me. I’m moaning and whining because I’m sick of seeing such utter negativity in so many games.

          • Kneebotherm8

            I’ll have to take your word on that hypothetical situation,though I doubt it,Benitez damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.
            You obviously want the present manger out and,I suspect,you wouldn’t be too disappointed if the the present owner stayed on too.

          • ghostrider

            I’d have Rafa stay if he changed his stupid attitude to how he sets us up and for what he’s doing to certain players.

            I have no control over him staying or going but I do have control over whether I praise or slag him off and he’s getting slagged off because he deserves it.

            As for wanting Ashley to stay. I’d rather he went but not for the reasons that you and many adhere to.
            I want him gone because of the hate from people like yourself which is to the detriment of the club and is probably more of a reason as to why Ashley has decided not to dish out a few prezzies as a goodwill gesture.

            11 years he’s been here and we are premier league.
            If that’s a poison then let’s hope the antibiotics that come in are cure that they promise.

            Ashley can do no right and that’s why I think he should leave.
            Massive fickle fans hating him then tolerating him when the money flows.

          • anyobrien

            I don’t believe you go to the match tbh…

          • ghostrider

            You keep believing that and also keep worshipping Rafa when he gives you disgraceful football.

          • anyobrien

            Worship?…. Your off na nut

          • Kneebotherm8

            He worships Ashley……

          • Dave Iredale

            Goals against count to man! We re playing to our strengths and our strengths ain’t scoring more goals than the big boys siimple as and with that I mean we are in the big boys league, kicking out training with heels off against Tate and in these league will undoubtedly have us back in the championship. We are all supporters of the same club and we have been frustrated for to long now but to pull the lads and the gaffer apart because we ain’t got a good enough squad is very harsh and wrongly directed. It’s a bit like me having ago at you for being one of the fans that feed Ashely by going and watching and saying that you have been part of the problem. Just saying there is always more then meets the eye.

          • ghostrider

            I know our squad isn’t as good as the bigger teams in this league but Rafa built it and Rafa plays it and owes it to fans to have a go and YES to score more goals that ALL opposition.

            That’s what football is about.
            The TWO big goals are a massive clue.
            The opposition goalkeeper is another massive clue.

            Man City didn’t actually need a goalkeeper and in the end took off a centre half.
            They might as well have shuttered their goal with a sign saying “no deliveries today.”

          • Dave Iredale

            Rafa built it hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahshahahahahaha

            You got anymore.

          • Dave Iredale


    • Dave Iredale

      you sound like the type of person who expects a result on opening a scratch card dam you must have tunnel vision. An elite manager or your set up options. I’ll take the chances he’s giving the team to set up the golden point tally required to stay in this league and thank him gracefully for it as our illusive owner ain’t bothered one iota about the fine flair of football we desire. To say you want to see us attack attack attack (not in them words appreciated but intended all the same) every game well ask keegan what that got him other then praise from fans, Benitez is by far the Smartest manager in this league and I couldn’t give a rats to anybody jumping to defend there opinion, look at the set up of the club and lack of investment from top to bottom and tell me who would work through these atrocious conditions and put there hard earned reputation on the line. Hail raffa. People are sheep and glory hunters, why is it that pep don’t manage stoke or arse’n manage charlton or conte manage palace, you should know better then to bite the hand that feeds you. Must be a smb. 👎

      • ghostrider

        Bite the hand that feeds me?
        The man is a football manager and doing a below average job as it stands.
        He’s not feeding me anything other than misery.

        Smartest man in the premier league?
        I think you’ve got Rafaholm (my new word) syndrome. (look up Stockholm syndrome).

        • Kneebotherm8

          It’s a below average squad,thanks again to Mike Ashley.

          • ghostrider

            It’s below average for three major reasons.

            1. A manager who bought badly with plenty of money.

            2. A manager who can’t get the better players to play better football due to bad/negative tactics and arrogant untrusting.

            3. A championship team coming back into the premier league with a sell to buy forward thinking mindset allowed Rafa to let Carr and co go to get the job done himself and was left high and dry by his own failings, yet blame someone other for that failing….guess who?

          • Dave Iredale

            Mike Ashely?? Was I right, come on tell me so I can go and get my belly rubbed like you do from him ya silly pup.

      • anyobrien


    • Headless

      Personally, I found the last 15 minutes very entertaining as their plastic fans sat in Level 7 too nervous to sing and the goal keeper of a £1 Billion team wasted time to try to get to 90 mins with their lead intact….

      • ghostrider

        Weirdly so did I. I found it very good and a massive change….but guess what?
        I don’t want to be dealt 10 to 15 minutes of a few sporadic sniffs out of 90 plus minutes.

        • Dave Iredale

          Record it and play the last 15 back in slow motion then.

  • Leazes Ender

    Never in over half a century have I seen a United side do it so readily, and so completely….. and at home…..

    This has never happened here before, and that is what has shocked more than anything.

    It’s quite refreshing to see your club admit to its home fans (and the watching world) that it is no more than ‘cannon fodder’….. its the truth.

    The premier league is only ‘Premier’ for seven clubs….. it is a joke and has been from its inception….. buying the trophy has been the way with advertising shirt sponsors, as Wis said yesterday its now a competition between ‘Billionaire Ego’s’.

    Why do some fans on here criticise? well obviously for lots of different reasons…. some of these fools don’t want to be humiliated at home.

    Know your place football fans!

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      Hard luck, we’re not there to make City look good.

      Sometimes football fans are so stupid

  • 1957

    I’ve been critical of Benitez approach especially at home in recent weeks but even I don’t think he had much else to offer against City. He could perhaps have used different personnel, Gayle in place of Hoss was an obvious one, Dwight is at least mobile and the ball may not have come back as quickly after we cleared it with Gayle chasing it down. Benitez plan may have been to save his better players for Brighton only time will tell, it will be disapointing if Hoss, SloMo, Aarons and Murphy start the next game

  • Sadman

    Excellent article. If we had grabbed a point it would have been hailed as a tactical masterclass by Rafa. Sky pundits would have loved us to go toe to toe with them and been hammered as its better for the viewers. Personally i dont give a stuff about sky my only interest is nufc.

    • Leazes Ender

      Perhaps all teams will take on the top four in this way….. it’ll be terrible for Sky….. and advertisers will spread there cash to other teams balancing out the wealth……

      ….. its the way forward Shaolin Soccer….. don’t touch the ball.

  • disgusted fan

    worst display ever at st james park against a potentially premiership champions side,gave them too much respect and kept better players sitting on the bench for most of the game ,Rafa has had a limited budget to spend on players but I expect him to pick his better players instead of them sitting on the bench or being dropped altogether.

    • Leazes Ender

      two games a week….. it was the right thing to do.

      • disgusted fan

        expect slomo and the chuckle brothers from spain to start against brighton in his lineup to end the year on a high note.

    • Soldier

      I`ve been waiting over 18 months for him to pick his best players, it`s like waiting for Ashley to actually put money into the club, it`s not going to happen

    • Lyle

      Are you sure you really don’t comprehend what Rafa is doing there is reason to his tactics which is obvious. He is keeping the few players of substance to try to win the real matches of importance. Simples !

      • disgusted fan

        did you mean keeping his best players for the brighton game or the ones we lost to everton, watford etc. etc.etc.muppet

        • Lyle

          Obviously you don’t understand because you’re thick !

          • disgusted fan

            better being thick than a muppet and probably a newie so called fan.happy new year.

          • Lyle

            That just proves you’re thick ! Must dash I’ll mention you to Kermit and Gonzo !

    • Albert Stubbins

      You must have little understanding of the game. Would you send the s.a.s to sort out a playground disagreement? There is absolutely no chance of beating or even competing for ten minutes against city with the players Rafa has at his disposal, boys against men doesnt even come close. The way we set up and played was as close as we could ever get to a side that cost one hundred times more, yes that’s right. One hundred times more. Rafa very nearly had a Xmas miracle.

  • Soldier

    Tactics were right against Man C, he had to rest some of the decent players for tomorrow, my worry is that Joselu & Diame will start. being defensive is ok,
    the problem is Rafa does it every game, surely he`ll go all out for the 3 points tomorrow we can`t afford draws against the likes of Brighton

    • anyobrien

      I’d like to think so time will tell.

  • steve

    I won’t criticise him for being defensive in that particular game but it’s every week. The decision to play Joselu was baffling, he offered absolutely nothing, at least Gayle could have run the channels and offered and out ball like he did when he came on.

    • Albert Stubbins

      Agreed 100%

    • Damon Horner

      I agree with the concept but Rafa probably wanted him to be sharper off the bench rather than running the channels all game.

  • MadMag83

    Good article. What baffles me as well about some fans is that for years we’ve had a squad of so called mercenaries with fans saying they just want a team that tries. Well now we have a squad of average players some with very limited ability, but they do put the effort in. Unfortunately you need that bit of quality which we’re lacking.

    I was just glad we didn’t get battered by City, goal difference could be vital in a relegation battle.

  • NE5

    I thought this was going to be NUFC fans questioning themselves why they have blamed Allardyce, Pardew etc in the past for the clubs misfortunes but now exonerate Rafa. My point being that Ashley has been to blame for everybody, not just Rafa, and they just might have realised by now previous managers didn’t do so bad after all.

    • Gallowgate Dave

      Pardew was Ashley’s chief apologist, Rafa stands up to him. On the odd occasion I felt sorry for Pardew for having the rug pulled from beneath his feet hampering his chances of success (Carroll sale, buying only Anita after 5th place finish etc) he ruined it by dedicating wins to Ashley and calling him a fan.

      • TonyGreenFanClub

        It also happens to be his job to promote positive vibes at press conferences. Just because you don’t “like” what he says….thats all he was doing. So take no notice. Of anything. Anybody says.

        • Gallowgate Dave

          You say Allardyce, Pardew etc but who is your etc?
          Carver? Schteve? Kinnear?
          They are the only other managers under Ashley to be heavily criticised while Rafa is “exonerated” but I can assure you those 3 deserve it. As for Pardew his record is below average and since leaving us he has been sacked by his beloved Palace after leaving them bottom of a statistical league table of 92 league clubs for points per game in 2016 and he’s currently working his “magic” at West Brom (8 games, 4 points, 4 goals). So the only manager you have a point with is Allardyce who has had a decent career in fairness, (still not as good as he thinks he is), but I’m not going to shed any tears for a bloke as corrupt as him, whose transfer record with us was awful and who in his admittedly short time with us had us playing dire football. Still if I concede Allardyce it means you’ve named one other manager who you feel has been treat harshly in comparison to Rafa.
          More an exception than a pattern eh?

  • fistsofsteel2

    Sometimes I really don’t understand Newcastle fans either. Why are they backing a manager whose tactics, team selections, and substitutions are going to get us relegated?

    Rafa out.

  • Mal

    The vast majority of fans are still behind the manager. The criticisms come from the ‘vociferous minority’ which is fair enough – they have a right to be heard. I understand some of their arguments though don’t agree with most of them. Hopefully 3 points today will calm things down a bit. A defeat doesn’t really bear thinking about.

  • Phil Yare

    we didn’t get a point. we got beat 0-1. and we should have got beat 0-6 if they had their shooting boots on