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?

Rafa Benitez:

“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

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Manquillo (Yedlin 66), Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Hayden, Murphy, Diame, Shelvey, Atsu (Perez 64), Joselu (Gayle 76)

Unused Subs:

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)

  • Paul Patterson

    Let’s get some things clear, because some fans that comment on this site (if they aren’t trolls or taking the mick) really need to wake up and put criticism where it’s deserved-
    1. Going out and attacking Man City will result in a battering.
    2. There’s nothing really wrong with Rafa’s tactics (although we should be attacking the poorer teams in the league) that a good striker wouldn’t enhance. (see 3)
    3. Put a 25m pound striker in this side and we would be in the top 10 without a problem.
    4. The owner has encouraged failure via his cohorts and financial mismanagement and dumbed down standards to the extent that we are currently seeing and it’s there that blame should be levelled.

    • anyobrien

      Correct but some on here are?… We’ll what can you say

  • Leazes.

    Its almost as if Charnley isn’t doing anything.

    • Damon Horner

      It’s January, he’ll probably be dealing with the tenders for stationery supplies. The important stuff.

    • Toon Arnie

      Surely not ??!! He’s busy ‘trying to get deals over the line’ – shame on you for even suggesting that !

  • anyobrien

    Silva gone at Watford

    • Damon Horner

      11 games without a win. Southampton will gun Pellegrino today or tomorrow I reckon and try and pick Silva up.

      • Peaky Magpie

        Very possible

    • Peaky Magpie

      Didn’t see your post mate but have put same up top.

  • ghostrider

    Paul Patterson • 2 minutes ago
    Let’s get some things clear, because some fans that comment on this site (if they aren’t trolls or taking the mick) really need to wake up and put criticism where it’s deserved-
    1. Going out and attacking Man City will result in a battering.
    Answer: Maybe and maybe not. The only way you’ll find that out is trying it.
    Nobody’s asking for us to go gung ho but we should use every available opportunity to attack when in a position to do so.

    2. There’s nothing really wrong with Rafa’s tactics (although we should be attacking the poorer teams in the league) that a good striker wouldn’t enhance. (see 3)

    Answer: I don’t believe you really believe that.
    You’re admitting there’s plenty wrong with his tactics in the post without actually saying it directly.
    The man is running on a previous reputation and the fans are feeling like cap dothing paupers who feel privileged to have him and more than likely would still do if he sent out a team of goalkeepers to play at home.

    3. Put a 25m pound striker in this side and we would be in the top 10 without a problem.

    Answer: No we wouldn’t.
    Put a 25 million striker in this team and that striker would end up looking like a 5 million pound defender, because Rafa will simply destroy him.
    The man is a total clown and a dinosaur.

    4. The owner has encouraged failure via his cohorts and financial mismanagement and dumbed down standards to the extent that we are currently seeing and it’s there that blame should be levelled.

    Answer: Ashley and co are partly to blame for many things.
    Dumbing down comes from people hanging onto the Shepherd mortgages for mercenary trophy like signings and a large reliance on the old Keegan rollercoaster ride at a time when the Halls took advantage of a major lull in clubs being able to deal big money.

    In that sense Ashley’s dulled it for sure.
    He’s realised that buying in expensive players on high wages will result in a team full of mercenaries just waiting to jump ship at the first sign of failure to sniff a trophy and then leave us in dire need of stability…….which weirdly we do have.
    What we don’t have is a team managed by a manager who has the bottle to actually use them in a real footballing sense to take the game to teams.

    Someone needs to tell Rafa to understand that the goal is to try to win.

    • Damon Horner

      Clown and a dinosaur? Don’t think I’ve seen a triceratops with a wig and bright red nose before.

      • ghostrider

        Makes no sense.

        • anyobrien

          Zzzz zzzz zzz zzzzzz

    • Paul Patterson

      Chelsea used to play the same way as Rafa does now, but they had Drogba, Lampard, Terry and Cech.
      At Liverpool, Rafa had Torres, Gerrard, Hyppia and Reina.
      We have- Joselu, Shelvey, Clark and Eliott.
      I’m not going to go into finances as whatever problems were around in 2007 should have been compensated for by 2018.

      • ghostrider

        I’m not bothered about Chelsea or Liverpool or what Rafa did or didn’t do in the past.
        I welcomed him when he came. I was excited to think he would do the business or at least give us a fighting chance.
        He took us down and was then bankrolled to bring us back up.

        He’s now shown up for what he is. A waste of time as a Newcastle United manager because this man will only appear to operate in the higher regions of this sport if he’s literally bank rolled and better bank rolled as and when needed.

        The man is a clown.

        • Paul Patterson

          I stand by what I originally said- Give him/this team a £25m striker and we’d be top half.

          • ghostrider

            With the way rafa plays I think a 25 million striker would be shorn of confidence in short order.
            Give a new manager the chance to show what this squad can do and I firmly believe we will see a massive change in enjoyment and a comfortable finish.
            Keeping Rafa for one more minute at this club is one more minute closer to relegation.

            New manager in now and we will enjoy our football again.

          • hetonmag

            Marco Silva by any chance idiot, your condemnation of Rafa is pathetic and quite Mackem esk.

          • ghostrider

            I bet you were singing Silva’s praises earlier on in the season when Watford were flying high.
            Strange world the world of football, isn’t it?
            Never mind kid.

          • hetonmag

            Never mind kid how old are you 90, never mentioned him why would I he like a few more manager’s can’t hold a candle to Rafa.

          • Paul Patterson

            There’s no talking to him, his hatred is quite psychotic and not actually based on facts.
            This side is playing at just about it’s limit.

          • Toon Arnie

            Not really no, Silva has had money to spend. He goes for all out attack but has been sacked as Watford are sliding down the table. Rafa wasn’t bankrolled at all in the promotion season he brought a load of money in from transfers – wasn’t it a net profit ? Your comments make no sense at all.

        • Pozz Mozz

          Why is he a clown? Did he make you laugh? You make me laugh though, clown

        • Malcolm Fisher

          You mean bankrolled the same as in guardiola,klopp,maurino,koeman or fat sam or many others were.

    • anyobrien

      Go away man ffs

    • Leazes.

      hmmm… the one man teams that were put in place were really an abdication of responsibility, Malcolm Macdonald always said that United fans could be fobbed off with a striker…..’that’ll do’…just enough!…..Ashley has found out that you don’t actually need a number 9 shirt filler…. you can fill the ground without even the minimum.

      You are Kevs brother David Lee. you keep changing your name but that was always one point we agreed on…. the shirt seller the number 9.

    • ToonTom

      Ghostrider (and all the other trolls and naysayers),
      We have read that Rafa stayed in 2016 partly because his family strongly persuaded him that he had the adoration and 100% support of the fans.
      Your comments are deeply unwelcome in this respect. It’s pointless saying stop making them because 1) You’re entitled to make them, and 2) You evidently enjoy this trolling game too much to desist.
      But if Rafa’s family ever read this stuff, I hope they realise that no right-minded, non-trolling Newcastle fan thinks Rafa Benitez took us down, that he could do much more with the squad he has, that other managers could do even as much as he has this season (never mind more), and that he should not be our manager for as long as he wants to be.
      Rafa’s loyalty to this club is already well beyond reasonable.
      Your comments are not even vaguely so.

      • ghostrider

        Let me get this into your head.
        Rafa had my 100% support when he first came.
        After that it’s slowly waned as time went on.
        It got to such a state that it is so far gone as to render it almost impossible to be rectified, because I just don’t think the man is capable of getting the modern day footballer to immerse themselves into deep depressive football….if we can call it football.

        As for his loyalty to the club. Don;t make me laugh.
        His loyalty is to his 5 million a year wage.
        Be under any illusions you like about his loyalty, but this man is no good for this club.

        • Paul Smith

          You say it like he couldn’t get that 5 million a year wage elsewhere… He could and more. Remember where he managed before he joined us ? How much do you think he got paid managing the biggest club in the world ?

          • ghostrider

            I’m not bothered where he could get 5 million a year. He’s getting it with us to do a job that 5 million a year payment is for.
            He’s doing the job of someone on 10 grand a year. He’s utter useless.

    • Gandalf Greyhame

      Just curious, have you ever played or coached the game? I have.

      You talk about going out and playing an attacking game against Manchester City like any team can just go out and do it, but you have absolutely no clue how that could be accomplished, especially when the difference in the quality of players between the two teams is so marked You might as well tell Rafa that he really, really needs to go and take a holiday trip to Mars in a couple of weeks because, well…. that’s so much better and more pleasing to the eye compared to just sitting at home in England on planet Earth.

      So, as a former youth coach, let me tell you the ways a coach can actually set up to play a more attacking game of soccer, and how or why that might or might not work against Man City.

      1. Ball control and possession – if you are blessed with superior players who are faster, more skilled with the ball and can pass much more accurately than the other team’s players, you simply never give up the ball to the other team. You can then bring your defensive back line up to the half-way line of the field, and, because of the offside rule, this keeps the other team pinned to their side of the field, allowing you to take shot after shot at the goal until you score and win the game.
      The obvious problem with maintaining control of the ball against Man City is that they have, uniformly, the BEST 11 players on the field at any time compared to anybody else in the EPL in terms of speed, skill with the ball, and passing accuracy. In fact, Man City has two complete sets of 11-man teams that are as talented as the anybody in the rest of the EPL. Which means if your team makes just ONE BAD PASS, you will not get the ball back again for a long, long time. The statistical probability of being able to keep control of the ball against Man City is therefore basically ZERO. Please note that in their SINGLE LOSS of the season so far against Liverpool, Man City was still able to maintain a 64.3% possession rate against Liverpool. In their win against that other great ball control team, Arsenal, on Nov. 5, Man City had a 58% possession rate
      And so, in fact NOBODY in the EPL is able to play a ball control and high defensive line against Man City. NOBODY. It’s like telling Rafa he should take a holiday on Mars.

      2. You play with at least two true forwards, and on the occasions when you do have the ball, you pour forth with at least two or three other players in support, as this will increase the chances of somebody on your team getting to the ball and scoring. This has the obvious drawback that your midfield will be much more open and difficult to defend. Against a terrific ball possession team like Man City, your two true forwards are guaranteed to be either standing around doing nothing for most of the game, or they will have pulled back into the midfield to help out with the defense and will have essentially become extra midfielders. So it doesn’t matter what formation you play, how many forwards you put in, against Man City you will end up on your side of the field playing defense a minimum of 2/3 of the time, even if you have fantastic forwards and midfielders with the quality of Arsenal or Liverpool.

      3. You have your forwards and midfielders play a high press, hoping to catch Man City on their half of the field with a mistake and a turnover. You attack immediately, shoot immediately. This is in fact, how Liverpool beat Man City, 4-3. Every single one of Liverpool’s goals came off a turnover mistake by the Man City defenders or midfielders from this attacking high press. Watching the highlights of that match, it’s obvious that several Man City players were a bit off that day, making mistakes that they don’t usually make. Liverpool had the players with the speed and ball skills to do the high press successfully on that day – that’s their normal style of play. Newcastle simply does not have the same level of players. When you watch the Newcastle forwards and midfielders try to do a high press, it’s obvious that most of them are too slow or not physical enough to challenge for the ball like Liverpool’s players were able to against Man City.

      The clear cut drawback of playing a high press style with your forwards and midfielders is that you tire them out and open up the field enormously, making it a lot easier for the other team to attack and score on you. If this high press doesn’t work, you can easily end up with gigantic lopsided losses, and Liverpool’s 5-0 loss to Man City earlier this season in November is the proof of that.

      Klopp disciple David Wagner also plays this high press style at Huddersfield, and they have almost the same record as Newcastle, being just one point ahead of Newcastle at the moment, while at the same time having given up a lot more goals, and … ahem …. SCORED FEWER GOALS than Newcastle. And, please note, David Wagner was able to spend a net of £34,540,000 to sign TEN new players compared to Rafa getting a net of £10,250,000 to sign only FIVE new players last summer. Please also note that Brighton, which spent a net of well over £55,700,000 on FOURTEEN new players last summer has so far SCORED FEWER GOALS than Newcastle and are in fact second to last in the EPL in total goals scored. Brighton is just one notch below Newcastle in the standings at the moment, and this is because they are one goal better than Newcastle in terms of total goals given up. This suggests that Brighton is in fact a more defensive team than Newcastle.

      So ghostrider, you can rant all you want about Rafa, but really he is doing MUCH BETTER right now in the goal scoring department than David Wagner or Chris Hughton, even with Joselu playing forward instead of Mitrovic, even playing a defense heavy style, and most of all, even though he only got a pathetic net of £10,250,000 to buy new players last summer.

  • anyobrien


  • Peaky Magpie

    Silva sacked at Watford,already ???

    • Leazes.

      Hey ho…

      • Peaky Magpie

        The game is spiralling out of control and won’t be long before clubs from the lower leagues start going out of business on a regular basis imo.

    • hetonmag

      Didn’t one or two on here want him as our next manager.

      • Peaky Magpie

        Think is has been mentioned,things never seemed right there since the Everton connections.