Rafa Benitez is wondering what is the bigger challenge….
Having to take on (Sovereign state) Manchester City twice in the space of 24 days.
Or convincing Mike Ashley to spend anything this transfer window on a Championship team that pre-season, he said he expected to be comfortably safe by January and then be able to have a real go at the FA Cup.
Yet they say it is Newcastle fans who are deluded…
After limiting Manchester City to a 3-1 win, Rafa Benitez was happy to explain his tactics and how he was trying to get every last ounce out of them, in a vain attempt to grab a point.
For 15 or so minutes after Jacob Murphy scored, the travelling fans saw the team threaten to get an equaliser, only for the gulf in quality to reassert itself.
Newcastle fans don’t expect their team to match Manchester City but as Rafa Benitez points out: ‘It is the Premier League and everyone is spending a lot of money.’
That is of course, apart from Newcastle United.
These past 48 hours Rafa has said a number of times that Mike Ashley has promised to strengthen the squad in these remaining (11) days of the transfer window but we will all believe it when we see it.
Against Swansea, Rafa Benitez started with 11 players who played Championship football last season, at the Etihad it was nine plus Manquillo who was at relegated at Sunderland, and Joselu who last season was only given nine starts at strugglers Deportivo, who finished fifth bottom of La Liga.
Rafa says with everybody else spending (relegation battlers Stoke, Brighton and Huddersfield have all already brought in two players each in January), ‘That is why we expect something in this window.’
Newcastle fans, and Rafa Benitez, have got used though to expecting nothing but contempt from Mike Ashley.
Newcastle United were massive odds of 22/1 to beat Manchester City, what odds would you want for Newcastle to bring in a new first team player this month?
“It’s the Premier League and everyone is spending a lot of money.
“That is why we expect something in this transfer window.
“Hopefully we can see some new faces before the end of this window.
“We wanted to stay in the game and we did that, the penalty was a bit soft, it changed everything.
“After we scored we had a couple of chances but they are a very good team, our reaction was quite good.
“We changed at the end and played with four at the back, the idea was to stay solid and then try to regain (some control) and play counter-attack.
“At the beginning we were giving the ball away easily, finding the balance between defending and attacking is what we were trying to do.
“I have been praising the players the whole season in terms of effort but sometimes it’s a bit of luck.
“If you have a little bit of luck you can be ahead in some games.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Manchester City 3 Newcastle 1
Newcastle: Murphy 67
Man City: Aguero 34, 63 (Pen), 83
Possession was Man City 81% Newcastle 19%
Total shots were Man City 21 Newcastle 6
Shots on target were Man City 9 Newcastle 4
Corners were Man City 18 Newcastle 0
Referee: Paul Tierney
Darlow, Manquillo (Yedlin 66), Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Hayden, Murphy, Diame, Shelvey, Atsu (Perez 64), Joselu (Gayle 76)
Elliot, Haidara, Merino, Ritchie
Crowd: 54,452 (Newcastle 3,000)
(Read instant fan/writer reaction to the Man City game HERE)
(To read the player ratings by fans and add your own go HERE)
(Alan Shearer explains in simple language why Newcastle fans want rid of Mike Ashley – Read HERE)
(Pep Guardiola congratulates Newcastle on getting over the halfway line…once – Read HERE)