DeAndre Yedlin has been talking ahead of Newcastle’s match with Manchester United at the weekend.
The right-back was talking to NBC Sports and says that despite having world-class players in every position, Newcastle can still ‘surprise’ Jose Mourinho’s team.
Yedlin believes that Rafa Benitez is improving him as a player, better decision-making and in ‘the whole understanding of the game’.
The Newcastle defender says that he is always giving himself targets and then giving it three months before evaluating how he has done.
As well as those shorter-term targets, DeAndre Yedlin has two really big ones in his sights.
Getting over the disappointment of now qualifying for Russia this Summer by one day winning the World Cup with the USMNT and ahead of that, helping Newcastle avoid relegation this season.
Giving Man Utd a real surprise and beating them would go some way to achieving that latter target.
DeAndre Yedlin talking to NBC Sports:
Playing under Rafa Benitez:
“It is based on what the coach likes and prefers but I think defensively I’ve just gotten a better understanding of when to go, when to stay, how aggressive to be and realising what is around me.
“It’s the whole understanding of the game which has become better and that comes with maturity and experience.”
Toughest opponent so far:
“I would have to say that Zaha was a problem (on Sunday).
“A mixture of how good he is on the ball, how powerful he is, how fast and how he can go both ways, can beat you inside or down the line – definitely a handful.”
Facing Manchester United:
“A team that has strong players all over the pitch and you can’t lose focus for one second because they’re going to hurt you, because in literally every position they have a world-class player, so it’s tough.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t expect us to do much in this game but it’s also the type of game that you can surprise them, come out strong and we’ll have the crowd behind us, so we can surprise them.”
“I have to make a list of a bunch of different things.
“There is not one thing. I make a lot of lists.
“Every three months I reevaluate my goals and see how I did.
“They are short-term targets and build season to season.”
Winning the World Cup:
“For me, I want to win the World Cup.
“If that’s not the goal then I don’t think you should be playing.
“A lot of people will say that isn’t realistic but for me, I will say ‘why?’ Why isn’t that realistic? Leicester City won the Premier League and nobody thought that could happen but it did.
“If that [winning the World Cup] is not the ultimate goal then I think we should reevaluate things.”
Spreading the net/not slipping through:
“I do think players [for the USMNT] are slipping through the net.
“It is a situation where we do need to reach out to some of the communities that maybe historically haven’t been as interested in soccer, or some of the poorer communities, because I think there are kids slipping though the net. Just like there will be in any sport or in any country.
“I realise it is hard because the USA is such a big country. In that same sense there are that many more kids who could be the next ones who help us reach a World Cup final.
“I think as big as a country America is, we should start trying to become a powerhouse in this sport.”
“In this situation you have to tune out what everybody on the outside is saying, including fans. The fans are going to be talking, the media talking, even your family is going to be talking…but the only thing that matters is what is going on at the training ground with the team and the staff.
“We’re the ones who are going to pull ourselves out, or we’re the ones who are going to go under, so I think if we stay together as a group and a team, that is what is going to keep us up.
“We definitely have the right team and staff to do it and now we have to prove it.”