There is a bit of a strange relationship between Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle fans.

Universal support from the fans for the manager.

Yet on a matchday, you would find it hard to track down any Newcastle supporter who agrees with his team selection.

On Monday it was a classic example, I bet not a single one of the 3,200 travelling fans (see above) would have picked the team Rafa Benitez had chosen when it was announced at 2pm.

Standing there in the away end at Stoke City before kick-off, I got the impression that if things went wrong, the manager may have been subjected to his worst criticism yet.

Not in terms of wanting him out, just fans questioning why he had chosen that particular team.

After failing to beat Brighton and desperately needing a win, Rafa made five changes and didn’t even include an out and out striker.

Mikel Merino left on the bench along with Dwight Gayle, whilst Diame, Murphy and Perez were brought in.

An experimental shift with three wingers selected, Christian Atsu moved to behind the main striker, was this really the time to be chopping, changing and experimenting?

Of course, everybody was happy at the final whistle.

A deserved Newcastle victory, by far the better team (which everybody but Mark Hughes agreed with…), and Rafa Benitez proved right, once more.

We now face another week of Newcastle fans agreeing that Rafa Benitez is undoubtedly the man for NUFC, before we get the next set of grumblings at his choice of players.

The bottom line is that Rafa has very few stand out choices when picking his team, especially when having to play three games in five days, including two matches within 48 hours.

I’m guessing that the key to his team against Stoke was choosing players who were physically at their best to play.

Merino and Joselu both looked knackered in the second half against Brighton, whilst Paul Dummett was never going to be able to play two games in such quick succession, after over four months out.

As for Dwight Gayle, he didn’t look sharp against Brighton and no doubt Rafa Benitez was looking to use him as he did against Manchester City, as an impact sub fresh against tiring players.

In that Man City match it almost worked with a penalty shout and header that just went wide, at Stoke he looked far better again coming off the bench and very definitely should have had a penalty when Zouma pushed him over, shortly before the goal.

Of course, Rafa Benitez won’t get everything right, but with a squad made up almost entirely of very average players, many of them not Premier League standard, he has to juggle what he has got.

If the manager had been properly supported by Mike Ashley in the summer and brought in the four minimum better quality players, then it would be a very different story.

We would then have a solid base of six or more players who were obvious first choice and it would have undoubtedly brought out better from certain existing players, the likes of Ritchie and Gayle for sure.

Ignoring Man City, Rafa Benitez has navigated a very difficult festive period and picked up seven points from nine against relegation rivals, six of those points coming on the road.

Surely the only show in town should be Newcastle fans speculating on just what he could do if Rafa eventually gets to bring in the players that he wants, rather than the ones he has to make do with.

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  • Paul Patterson

    Delighted with the three points but to me the constant chopping and changing isn’t helping, especially when it’s 4-5 players at a time.
    Players need consistency and partnerships need to develop and dropping players after they have contributed/played well is counter productive.
    Sometimes I think managers overthink things.
    Having said that, I’m pleased it backfired spectacularly on Mark Hughes, couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy . .

    • Wor Lass

      Agreed but I think a lot is to do with fitness at the minute (apart from the aforementioned mitro and Mbemba, that is).

      • Mike Adam

        Einstein’s definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That is how I look at the team anytime Joselu is in it, he is our CF with the most minutes played. If you look at the positive results and goals scored almost all of the ones that have led to points have occured with him on the bench. Just an observation interpret it how you would like. This has been my biggest disagreement with Rafa. Playing anyone else is better than playing Joselu IMO.

        • Wor Lass

          Mike, I`m not as down on Joselu as many people but I do think he`s pretty useless as a goal scorer. My main gripe with Rafa is who he doesn`t play – especially Mitro and Mbemba. I would genuinely like to know what he sees in Manquillo and Hayden that he doesn`t see in Mbemba. As for Mitro, something must have gone on behind the scenes that we`re not privy to. I know some people don`t rate him and I can see what their reservations are about but when you can`t buy a goal you need to play a goal scorer somewhere along the line.

          • Mike Adam

            Well Wor, You should know that I am a huge Mitro fan and that is my real biggest problem with Rafa. But I have come to realize he will unfortunately never play for us again. Mitro is the best CF on the team and should be playing!!!

          • Wor Lass

            Agreed.

          • hetonmag

            Manquilo gives more going forward than both Mbemba and Dummett it’s his defensive duties that let him down I said in an earlier post if you could merge the three together you would probably get a decent LB.

          • Mike Adam

            I would agree with Dummet, but not Mbemba.

    • Mike Adam

      My biggest problem is the dropping players after they have contributed and played well !!!

  • Arty Hume

    I think we should all herald the arrival of our first new signing of 2018, he’s a bog lad and certainly put in a great shift on Monday, welcome Mo Diame. For the first time in NUFC colours he played like he meant it, he’s a big unit and can handle most PL players physically, without him yesterday we would not have got the win. Very well done Mo, I’ve not been your biggest fan since arrival, but playing like that, man, I’d put you on the team sheet every week, well done, and thanks for showing up at last, you could quite well have been the catalyst to spark/save our season.
    We had players yesterday who showed up, got stuck in and did up proud.

    • Mike Adam

      Have looked at him as contributing almost nothing up until yesterday. I want to give credit where credit is due. He played with purpose, was smart with the ball, and disrupted Stokes movement through the midfield!!!

      • Wor Lass

        His best display since Huddersfield away last season. We need more than one game a season, though. Having said that, he does seem to be improving at the minute.

      • Arty Hume

        Indeed m8.

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      He was good against West Ham as well.

      • Virsino

        He was also excellent against Man $hity

    • TheNutJob

      he`s only put a shift since he was listed !!

      • Arty Hume

        Agreed but it was a vital shift, west am too

  • Martin

    If you read Rafa’s comments after the match it seems that Atsu and Perez have played in that formation plenty of times in training games. Not the same as in a match but Rafa obviously prepares the players in detail. They linked up well which suggested that they had played together up front. I often don’t understand some of the selections but I put this down to not knowing everything that is happening behind the scenes, and Rafa knowing more. Happy to go with what he thinks. 7 points in 10 days over 4 matches is a superb effort especially when you consider injuries and the lack of depth in the squad.

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      I do like a team that plays with two creative attacking midfielders or what used to be an inside right & left. Atsu and Perez suit that position but I’d like them to have a centre forward to aim at as well.

      • Jezza

        Who is to blame for them not having a decent centre forward to aim at?

        • Oooh bobbi fleckman

          The chap who invented the FFP rules. I still like Gayle

          • Jezza

            OK fair enough, Liverpool can pay £75 million for a centre half, Man City can pay £50 million for a full back but FFP limits Newcastle’s striker budget to £5 million. Surely even you don’t believe that. There is no limit to the ammount of nonsense you’re prepared to spout in defence of your beloved Ashley is there.

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            It’s not really the cost of the player but the wages. Man C were very clever, the base year for FFP was 2013 when they sacked Mancini. They included paying his contract up in the wages for the year. Under FFP, Man City and all other teams can pay wages of £19m on top of that earned in 2013, by racking up the salaries in 2013, city were able (before any other tweeking of figures) pay out £59m more in wages over last season. This budget was only afforded to two other clubs, promoted Brighton and Huddersfield, NUFC however could only add £7m

        • TheNutJob

          Fatty

      • NUFCDan

        Gayle although our most natural goal scorer doesn’t do well as a lone striker against PL standard defences.

    • Kneebotherm8

      It’s hard for the opposition manager to implement his tactics when he hasn’t got a clue what Benitez is going to do in his team selection.
      I think his team selection and tactics keeps all our players on their toes,unlike the McLaren era when certain prima Donna individuals,guaranteed places whatever,put in heartless,gutless performances on a regular basis.
      This resulting in a relegation that should never have happened,given the value of the squad at the time.
      There’s some individuals on here actually blaming Rafa for our relegation…..the damage was done in the 28 games preceding his arrival by a bunch of gutless,demotivated individuals who didn’t deserve to wear the shirt,and would never have gotten away with what McLaren allowed to happen,if Benitez had been there.

      • Tom Page

        Explain what ‘gotten’ means?

        • Kneebotherm8

          Just for you……..

          Meaning of “gotten” in the English Dictionary

          past participle of get : for example

          They were so pleased that they’d finally gotten to visit (= succeeded in visiting) England.

        • Kneebotherm8

          Here’s the meaning just for you:-

          Meaning of “gotten” in the English Dictionary

          ​past participle of get

          Usage example:-
          They were so pleased that they’d finally gotten to visit (= succeeded in visiting) England.

          If that was a serious question then I’m pleased to be of assistance to you.

      • Martin

        Agreed. I can’t take seriously people who question Rafa on this site. He will make mistakes like anyone else but he is a world class manager. People who think they know more than him on this site are fools.

        • Kneebotherm8

          Couldn’t agree more.

        • Damon Horner

          Even aside from reputation he is getting results and seems to have the players on the pitch putting the effort in for him/us/club. Until one of that changes then other things being questioned in the big picture look insignificant.

  • Steve Smith

    I’ve seen a table somewhere with the bottom 10 and their points against each other. We’re currently top of it.

    We don’t need to be beating Mann City and Chelski. We need to be winning the 6 pointers which is what we’re doing.

    • Down Under Mag

      Spot on!

    • Damon Horner

      Many on here have said our fate will be decided by our H2H against the bottom half and we’re doing the work needed. We just need to not commiserate every missed chance and focus on the overall “table”

  • Down Under Mag

    The issue is that Rafa makes some very strange calls in both tactics and player choice that doesn’t sit well with certain groups of the fans base when they have pre-conceived ideas of what should and shouldn’t happen and never seem to give any thought as to why the decisions were made that way.

    I actually think it made sense for the way Rafa set up, especially if Atsu and Perez and more comfortable/used to playing that formation. Merino is arguably our most talented midfielder BUT he also probably wasn’t going to react well to Stokes trademarked “kick anything above ground and get away with it” style.

    The team was also set up to break at pace which they did well (only their lack of crossing ability seeming to let them down from creating even more chances than they did). We were always going to face a side playing ‘hoofball’ when they had Crouch up front, which meant we were always going to struggle to play any meaningful football in the centre of the park against them when they could just grab it. The defence did exceptionally well at ensuring they won the second ball from the knockdown and we had pace to burn when needed.

    For me this game shows exactly why Rafa should be trusted in what he wants. Hopefully he manages to confound the fans again against Swansea with some strange formation that gets criticised but finds us walking away with maximum points!

    • Kneebotherm8

      His tactics are “horses for courses” ones,he set the team up well for the Stoke game against a cumbersome defence he set us up to break with pace and it worked a treat,how we only scored one goal is a mystery.
      The Swansea game?…..different opposition to Stoke and,no doubt,Benitez will set up differently with a different team selection,for which,he’ll be slated on this site by some.
      The easiest thing in the world for him to do would be to just keep the same team as the Stoke game,but I doubt he’ll do that.

  • Dave1992

    I suspect the main reason is us fans not being used to a manager who has a plan and organises teams properly.

    • NUFCDan

      ..and picks players to suit the opposition and tactics for that match not just the strongest 11 in the same formation 99% of the time.

  • Rich Lawson

    If he wins he’s a tactical genius,if not, a constant meddler ? It remains impossible to 2nd guess his team selection,we even seem to be rotating keeper’s now,Woodman against Luton ?

    • Tynewalker

      I hope Woodman plays v Luton. He needs to be developing and this is an ideal experience for him. Don’t think he will let anybody down.
      Of course no one can second guess Benitez. He has rotated midfield giving most of them a rest during a hectic period.

    • Kneebotherm8

      Hopefully the opposition manager can’t second guess his team/tactics either……..that’s got to be good…………and why not put Woodman in against Luton?…….he needs to be given a chance.

  • ghostrider

    The reason fans can’t get a grip with Benitez is simply because he acts like some kind of dummy spitting manager who picks his teams on whether they’ve been nice to him in training or not.
    Ok I might be lathering this a little but basically what I’m saying is, he’s a chancer.

    I’m over the moon with the 3 points but by the same token Rafa is not out of the woods for me by a long shot.
    However, I don’t want to go all negative with him or his team selections….I’ll wait in hope that he can add a few players that he requires and keep us fighting in all areas of the pitch against every team we come up against.

    An away win at arguably the worst team I’ve seen in a while is still a win and 3 points.
    It doesn’t make Rafa a genius.

    • Jezza

      Yes let’s sack Rafa because 13th in the Premiership isn’t nearly good enough for this squad of players. If we had a proper manager like Alan Pardew or Joe Kinnear we’d be competeing for a Champions League place.

      • Damon Horner

        To me, he sees football as part of the entertainment industry rather than a sport.

        Generally, sports are competitive with mixed game approaches and mixed success and involves some high/low emotion.

        Sports masquerading as entertainment gives the viewer enjoyment whatever the outcome, like Motor Racing tries to be. I just don’t think you can expect that in football and that’s what it looks to me like he is demanding.

      • ghostrider

        You seem fixated with using Pardew and Kinnear.

        • Jezza

          Not half as fixated as you are with your ongoing one man sack Rafa campaign.

          • ghostrider

            He deserves to be sacked.

          • Paul Patterson

            Ok, we are currently managerless- who do we go for?
            Starting your answer with ‘Somebody who . .’ isn’t acceptable . .

          • Damon Horner

            I think He said he’d go for Slaven Bilic (the man who brought a sub on and didn’t tell him his position) or Ronald Koeman.

          • Jezza

            Ha ha yes sacked managers who were replaced by Davie Moyes and A-Lard-Arce.

          • Paul Patterson

            @damon_horner:disqus
            I seriously don’t know how to reply to those two names.
            Koeman spent over £120m and flopped . .

          • Jezza

            Bilic also signed proven Premiership quality and flopped while Rafa has taken a Championship team with virtually no transfer funds to 13th in the Premiership.

          • Mike

            Rafa is a winner……the “big clubs” appoint winners when was the last time we appointed a winner? SBR

          • Jezza

            Earlier in the season he wanted Pardew back.

          • ghostrider

            Ronald Koeman.

          • Jezza

            Great choice. A sacked manager who got ten times Rafa’s transfer budget but got off to a much worse start than Rafa did this season.

          • Tony English

            …and I can tell you for a FACT not here say (my mates son works behind the scenes at Everton) Koeman alienated all the backroom staff over there by being totally ignorant. Can’t talk about the players moral, but the training ground and stadium staff were no fans of him. Not the best way to fuse together a club.

          • ghostrider

            I wish I had a pound for all the times I’ve heard to mates uncles mams best bingo friends sons mates grandads grandsons uncle Jim who works behind the scenes.

          • Tony English

            He’s a GK coach for the juniors. Tell me where to send your pound.

          • ghostrider

            Really?
            Don’t you think you’re selling him down the river by disclosing this info?

          • Jezza

            Yes 13th in the Premiership is not good enough for a manager who was given a transfer budget that clubs like Hartlepool and Carlisle would be envious of.

          • ghostrider

            For a manager that used a transfer budget ineptly.
            For a manager that refused to shift players in order to add more, or couldn’t buy those he was after because they simply didn’t want to come and play for him or Newcastle for whatever reasons can be cited.

          • Jezza

            Is 13th in the Premiership not good enough for you? Do you genuinely think this Newcastle squad would be in the top half of the table if we had a failed big spending sacked Everton manager in charge?

          • ghostrider

            13th is fantastic.
            That’s far from the full story though, is it?
            I think you know what I mean.

          • Jezza

            Fair enough, you’ve got me there. Rafa did use his budget ineptly. He should never have signed Joselu, he should have used the £5 million Ashley gave him to buy Kane or Aguero.

          • Kneebotherm8

            😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂…nice one…..

          • ghostrider

            He never had 5 million to spend for crying out loud.
            He decided to buy anyone but the players he should have bought and left it to the last minute which only enabled him to panic buy a striker.
            He chose a spaniard but refused to use a pair of ready made strikers in Mitrovic and Gayle.

            He chose Joselu because Joselu provided graft on top of the pretence of being played as a striker.
            Rafa didn’t spend wisely and he is to blame, nobody else.

          • Jezza

            Come on then, answer me this. Which players should Rafa have bought with his available budget? Name them otherwise you’re just full of hot air.

          • ghostrider

            Rafa should have bought players that he intended to use and not leave to rot.
            He also should be using the players he already had at his disposal instead of letting them rot.
            The man has/had much more than people are willing to accept.

          • Jezza

            Couldn’t name any names could you. Like I said you’re just full of hot air.

          • ghostrider

            Lazaar and Sels plus Gamez and Hanley…want me to go on?
            Mitrovic, Saivet, Haidara and so on that he’s used only when forced into it.
            No full of hot air, it’s there to be seen.
            Rafa’s a lucky man. A really lucky man.
            He’s lucky because he has the fans on his side….luckily only just, because we have an owner that is the major focus of discontent and hatred in a merry old mix.

            Any fan that says Rafa hasn’t been weird and baffling is in denial.
            Any fan that says they wouldn’t have wanted Rafa out if he had less of a recent history pedigree , would not be strictly telling the entire truth, I believe.

            Rafa is lucky but, if he can get his act together and balance this team out over this season to finish fairly comfortable, then fair play to him and a massive thumbs up from me.
            However, I will not detract from anything I said, because that’s how I feel/felt.
            Let’s hope he changes that…but as it stands he’s papering over large racks with tissue paper and he is in a fair share of the blame for that along with Ashley and co.

      • Mike

        y not bring back Carver?

      • Kneebotherm8

        Ghostriders iconic owner(in his deluded eyes)sacked Hughton when we were 11th in the premier league ,as hetonmag says why doesn’t he ride off into the sunset and take his beloved Ashley with him.

    • hetonmag

      Ghostrider why don’t you ride off into the sunset people know when you post on here it’s to bash Rafa yes Stoke are rubbish according to you but in the Premier every team is hard to beat. It’s a New Year but the same old Shyte from you.

      • ghostrider

        Stoke aren’t rubbish just according to me. Anyone can see it.
        Old year or new year means nothing to me in terms of what I see and want to say about what I see or perceive.
        The win was great and I’m over the moon with the 3 points.
        13th in the table all looks rosy.
        I hope it stays that way but I fear it won’t with this chancer.

        If you want to smell roses from sewage then be my guest, you’re entitled to do that, just as I’m entitled to actually smell sewage masked with a hint of perfume to still be very distinguishable as sewage.
        That’s what Stoke are and the 3 points we got were deserved for one reason. We scored and they didn’t.

        It masks over the issues with Rafa, it does not make him a match genius.

    • Damon Horner

      What makes him a chancer and what could he do to reverse that opinion?

      • anyobrien

        He’s won he champions league and won league titles but he’s a chance… Lmfao

        • Damon Horner

          anywhere apart from us where he has completed a full season he has won something. if he is a lucky chancer I want him to pick my lottery numbers.

      • ghostrider

        He’s a chancer with team selections .
        To revers my opinion on that, all he has to do is stop messing the squad players about.

        • Damon Horner

          Be more specific. How do you keep a squad happy and feeling loved and appreciated while not using a squad rotation policy?

          • ghostrider

            Don’t give me the squad rotation nonsense.

          • Damon Horner

            Just trying to get my head around it. Not as clever as you are.
            1) It’s a squad, you acknowledged that.
            2) He can’t rotate the squad in your view because it is “nonsense”.
            3) If he has a squad and should maintain consistent selections, how can he avoid the unused players feeling “messed about”?
            4) If stats don’t matter how can he drop an underperforming squad player by his own assessment if it differs with the fans views?

          • ghostrider

            So you haven’t been watching team selections and baffling tactics?
            Playing the same players who produce nothing and leave out players that could potentially change it all then get forced into changes by bringing in those players for a game for them to play well, only to drop them into the cold.

            C lap trap mate. Clap trap, no matter how you try and dress it up as some kind of rotation.

          • Damon Horner

            I’m not trying to dress anything as rotation. If he plays the same team then others will feel they have never got a chance, so messed about…

            As far as i’m concerned I look at team selections and try and apply the logic behind the selection. Merino is injured so I understand he isn’t in the team and Diame might be played instead.

            You use the term “potentially change” these are players previously in the “produce nothing” bracket that now has a new list of players. If they don’t change a thing you’ll then want the roles reversed perhaps? messing them about…. or maybe the squad isn’t quite at the level in terms of quality so the perception of “baffling” tactics and selection exists.

          • ghostrider

            You try and apply the logic?
            His choices have been baffling and silly on numerous occasions.
            His subs have been a joke on many many occasions.
            There is very little logic in what he’s doing.
            He’s a chancer.
            It’s a hand in the lucky bag of players that is his flavour of the week. Those who are nice to him more than likely.

    • NUFCDan

      A Champions League winning ‘chancer’ hahahaha

      • anyobrien

        Take no notice mate he talks utter boll ox for effect…. Best approach is to ignore him and he might go away

        • Jezza

          On the other hand let him keep posting and making an ever bigger fool of himself.

          • anyobrien

            Aye good shout.

      • ghostrider

        Winning the champions league then does not equate to NOW.

        • Jezza

          You wanted Pardew back on the grounds that he finished 5th in 2012. That “does not equate to NOW” either.

          • Kneebotherm8

            He wanted Pardew back cos he licks Ashleys @ss.

          • ghostrider

            I didn’t want Pardew back so don’t waste your time making stuff up.

          • Jezza

            Give it a couple of weeks and you’ll be denying you wanted Koeman too once the stupidy of that sinks in. You’ve changed your tune about Pardew to save face now he has flopped at West Brom.

          • ghostrider

            I won’t deny anything if it all turns out well. I’ll praise Rafa to the hilt if he somehow comes out of this after effecting a master plan that I didn’t see.

            Let me tell you where the big issue is for you.
            You seem to think that I want this club to fail or at least want Rafa to fail.
            I don’t want one person at this club to fail. I don’t even want to the tea lady to make a bad cuppa.
            I love this club and have done all my life from the age of being able to be a football fan.

            Your mindset seems to be as though you’re attached to Rafa’s hip as a Newcastle United Rafa bandwagon beacon and anyone that tries to extinguish your bright lights is somehow not worthy of being a fan or are not entitled to have a pop at your hipster idol.

            Let me get this clear to you and absorb it.
            I am a supporter/fan of Newcastle United whether the jolly green giant owns it or the green goblin….or Mike Ashley, etc.
            I am a supporter/fan of Newcastle United whether Rafa Benitez is in charge or a random fan picked from the crowd.

            That doesn’t stop me from giving out praise where it’s due and giving my point of view when things are not going well.
            It also won’t stop me from giving it to a manager who is idolised if I think he’s acting odd and being a dipstick at times.
            I’ll continue to go for or against as and when I feel the need.

            I’m not going to spend time blowing smoke up the aris of people who I don’t think deserve it but will certainly give credit where credit is due, whether it’s Benitez or Ashley or Charnley or the tea lady, etc.

            And don’t mention Pardew as if you know what I’ve said about him, because all you’ve done is made up a pretence that I’ve asked for him back or something.

    • robbersdog

      Are you taking the p*ss? Rafa is the only manager in history to have won the UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. He has also won two La Liga league titles and the Supercoppa Italiana.

      He’s one of the world’s elite managers and we’re bloody lucky to have him. Stop trolling!

      • ghostrider

        He’s lucky to have us and 5 million a year in his bank account.
        He’s past his sell by date.
        You don’t win anything by being idolised and living on past reputation…you win things by being as good in present day in sorting out the club/team you become part of.

        • Jezza

          I didn’t notice Ronald Koeman sorting out Everton.

          • Kneebotherm8

            He mightn’t have been on the same wage as Rafa but he spent 10 times as much in the transfer market.

          • ghostrider

            I’m not surprised. I’m willing to bet it was all done for him and I’d hazard a guess the buying was taken right out of his hands.

          • Jezza

            You want a manager who is “good in present day in sorting out the club/team you become part of” and you say you want Ronald Koeman. Well none of that applied to Koeman at Everton. Once again you are contradicting yourself.

            You only ever use this forum to wage your one man Sack Rafa campaign. You never talk about anything else related to NUFC. What’s the matter, did Rafa refuse you an autograph or something?

          • ghostrider

            I don’t like Rafa’s ways or negativity.

        • Kneebotherm8

          Which he’s done……and is doing…….but he doesn’t crawl up Ashleys backside,which for some strange reason seems to annoy you.

      • Kneebotherm8

        Aye,but he doesn’t lick Ashleys @ss that’s why he doesn’t like Rafa.

    • Tony English

      The lowest form of information is opinion, often based on little or no knowledge, just “well thats my opinion”.

      So whatever your opinion of Rafa’s selection and tactics and ability…it is purely that opinion.

      You’re not on the training ground, you’re not in the dressing room, so you don’t see what he does, or why he makes the decisions he does…

      ….I believe you write your bile because your a 50 year old man who lives with his mam, sat in his pants wearing wellies and a tin foil hat…but that is just my opinion.

      One thing that is beyond argument is on a match day the team he choses give 100% and never shirk respinsibility. Not once have I seen that in any performance this season.

      • ghostrider

        You’re entitled to your opinion and like you rightly say, so am I.
        My opinion whilst sat in my Y front underpants in my mothers basement will welly top skin sores around my legs is still on Rafa being inept.

        You are also not on the training ground and also not in the dressing room so you also do not see what he does or why he makes the decisions he does.
        When most of the fans are questioning his tactics, plan B and also selections as baffling, then something has not and is not as it seems, in terms of set up, regardless of the old ” oh but the players graft their horlicks off.”

        It’s in your mind of you think every player in the team has given 100% and has never shirked responsibility.
        Plenty have but it gets masked by the many occasions we spend running about chasing shadows and hoofing balls away into no mans land.

        Wins against Stoke and home draws against Brighton and such are great point add ons but they tell a false story.

        • Tony English

          Indeed I’m not on the training ground, which is why unlike you, and several others of the same ilk, I’m not making statements regarding dummy spitting out by Rafa, or him having grudges against Mitro etc…comments about behind the scene stuff which you and I know absolutely nowt about.

          I was at Chelsea away under McLaren, at least 8 players that day shirked their responsibility. They didnt play for the manager.

          That has never happened under Rafa, not once, correct me if I’m wrong.

          We might not always agree with shapes and selections, but whoever he picks seems to know their position and try their best, not always good enough, or sometimes the tactics don’t work, but personally I can’t question application BASED on what I see on a match day, not presumption of what’s happening in training.

          • ghostrider

            No they don’t seem to know their position.
            They simply know A position of graft defensively and the rest is all down to scrap feeding.

          • Tony English

            At least you’re close to admitting they know “A position of graft defensively” which is more than we’ve had under the last half dozen managers, the first time we’ve been a unit for years (albeit flawed) rather than being used as a shop window for two or three show ponies looking for their next pay packet.

          • ghostrider

            Can you see any real set positions in this team?
            Tell me about them.

          • Tony English

            I guess by set positions your referring to the team being tweaked every week and the confusion of team selection, not specific tactics?

            None of us have accurately second guessed his line up most weeks, but whoever plays the wingers cover the full backs (did Ben Arfa etc?), the midfielders track back (did Sissoko etc?) and they are a solid unit considering the personnel.

            The players that don’t play are the ones who tend to step out and lose shape (Mbemba) or don’t have energy levels or pace to press (Mitro).

            If you can’t see the way Rafa wants this group to play, you’re looking in the wrong direction.

          • ghostrider

            Look mate, by all means dress it up as if Rafa is some kind of genius.
            The reality is, he’s chancing his arm with a variety of players that suit his mood…all with the specific drill of graft graft graft in defensive order as a must….for all.
            Use pace as and when safe to do so.

            Stoke allowed us to walk over them because they are garbage and yet his cautious approach nearly bit him in the end.
            However, I won’t dwell on things like that and take away a well earned 3 points but I will tell you that rafa needs to up his games…I said GAMES….not game.

            It means that his away days as pressure relievers will not show his so called genius if his home set up in the pressure pot is set on acting like the away team.

          • Tony English

            At no point have I came close to dressing Rafa up as a genius, what I simply said is the team are working for him and playing for each other….which is more than we had under the last half dozen managers…and more than Everton had under Koeman.

            You have yet again reverted to your tired “chancing his arm with players that suit his mood” which is a negative spin on “chose the players that he thinks will play the way he wants against the oposition”, but you decide to paint him as petulant and moody.

            If you think that organising a team and getting them to work is purely “chance”, then please yourself mate, because it’s something the last bunch of chancers that managed us couldn’t do.

          • ghostrider

            I’d love to give him my full backing in a positive light but I don’t trust him anywhere near enough to be the man to sort us out.
            I dearly hope I’m wrong and he goes on to show that his methods in his madness were all geared for success.

            Let’s wait and see because I would take no pleasure at all in saying anything like ” I told you so” or whatever.
            Believe it or not, I want this club to fly as high as the highest kite. Sit on top of the highest mountain. Be the blossoming flower in the pot of closed buds.

            Did you like that? (Fred Dibnah style) lol.

          • Tony English

            Fred Dibnah a veritable style icon.

  • TheNutJob

    fans praising SloMo, that`s a first, you may have noticed that as soon as he was listed by Rafa he upped his game, sorry that`s not good enough, get him out the door asap.

    • Wor Monga

      Thats rubbish…he was in a role that he is a lot more comfortable in deeper and breaking up their moves in midfield…he’s not fast enough to play the creative role behind the strikers, but sitting alongside Shelvey they complimented each other, and that hasn’t always been the case due to us having extended periods without Shelvey and Hayden!!!

      • TheNutJob

        you haven`t got a clue, he`s been here 18 months and done NOTHING, Rafa`s listed him so i presume he know`s more than you
        try darts

        • Wor Monga

          Well he came cheaply at a time when we were just relegated and desperate for players…he helped us get promoted straight back as champions, at the first attempt when we could easily have been swimming in sh*t at the bottom of the championship (like your team is at the moment)…does that not count for something then?!!!

  • anyobrien

    Ignore ghostrider he may go away.

    • Jezza

      True, the school holidays will soon be over.

  • Wor Monga

    I don’t agree with those sentiments at all…the travelling army in my view accept what Rafa is trying to do with the assets he has available, considering that 3 of
    his previously experienced PL players (Mitro, Mbemba and Colback) are obviously almost totally unwanted/ unused…we can see that Rafa puts out a team that always tries hard even though they’re usually up against much more experienced and stronger PL outfits…

    …Against Stoke our movement, pace and willingness to cover, close down and compete for every ball was exceptional, very high standard, and they had no
    answer to it other than resort to some very rough handling, and fouling of our smaller and much quicker attackers…despite those tactics we were very
    impressive with no weakness throughout the side…

    …Stoke like to bully opponents, and it’s usually worked against us in the past, but our players are learning to play the game the way Rafa wants them to, and with additions he’ll make us competitive with any side!!!

    • TheNutJob

      2 very poor teams we were better on the day

      • Wor Monga

        Gettaway…yeh were not Barcelona, man…but for our shooting, and the referee it would’ve been a massacre…Stoke were up for that game, and had brought back their so called big guns, but the Toon played very well, and made them look worse than they were…give some credit when it’s due, or ask somebody who was there!!!

        • hetonmag

          I get the feeling some posters wanted us to get beat so they can criticise Rafas team selection who works with the player’s day in day out, and these very same player’s for all there lack of ability would run through a brick wall for the shirt something we haven’t been able to say in the past.

          • Kneebotherm8

            Hey…..what about Mclarens
            team?……Sissoko..Wijnaldum etc……them lads would bust a gut for McLaren and the shirt………….😂😂😂😂……no you’re right,the players are playing for Benitez and he guarantees none of them the shirt,which is as it should be,unlike the aforementioned gutless,prima donnas.

      • Kneebotherm8

        Very poor compared to what?

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Needs to play a decent team it’s a week to the Swansea game if we lose against Luton the fans will be outraged as the only chance of success this season. Needs to play Ritchie, Atsu, Murphy, Arrons at least one centre forward, Perez, Merino Shelvey and a decent back four with Woodman in goal just in case Darlow gets hurt.
    Lose to Luton then he should resign as need a cup run.

  • Andy Mac

    Three things.
    1. Rafa has been very smart in creating a good PR image after he arrived then added all those “we are all together” photos of him travelling around the region. Fatman may not have wanted that, who knows, but it undoubtedly helped endear him to the fans as “one of us”.
    2. Keeping the “we havent spent enough” message to the fore has allowed him the leeway to screw things up, as he has done occasionally, during the past season and a half. I’m thinking of Sels, Lazaar, Gamez maybe even Lejeune ? Plus the games against Blackburn, Sheff Wed and Huddersfield, Brighton, Bournemouth and Watford
    3. The continuing absence of players who could help make a difference such as Mitro, Mbemba and even Saivet are the most irritating of Rafa’s bad habits. Mbemba for example has played 7 games while Manquillo has managed 18 which, to me, is wrong.

    However we all know having suffered the grinning clueless twt for four years and the rest of Fatman’s “Yes Men”, Rafa is a breath of fresh air. He is the type of manager the Fatman should have brought in immediately instead of searching for R’s licking toadies who did as they were told.

    I hope, that with the right investment, Rafa can take this club forward. My concerns are his relatively poor transfer history, perhaps to be fair a 50-50 success rate, his adherence to players who are seen to be “favourites” and the tendency to favour a defensive gameplan.

    Do I want him out ? Of course not. Could he improve ? Hell yeah.