Even by Newcastle United’s standards, it has been a bizarre, somewhat roller-coaster month. Naturally, a a simple 1-0 win at home to Burnley was never going to happen, was it?

Not for the first time this season, there was a strange atmosphere around before the game with more of us in the Beehive (of all pre-match pubs) spending our time refreshing our twitter feeds, rather than focusing on the upcoming game. I am not going to go on a rant about transfers but it begs the question, if we were that invested in our own twitter feeds before the game, how could Rafa have given 100% to fielding a team when trying to sign players at the same time?

Anyway, this was a big game. I find myself saying before every game that this is a must win, but we really are getting into must win territory now, especially given the fact that we have a very tough end to the season. This was another ‘must win’ that we didn’t win, which not only heaps more pressure on the team to get a result on Sunday against Crystal Palace, but heaps instant pressure on the new guys, especially Slimani, to come in and perform straight away. A tough ask.

I probably could have copy and pasted a lot of this match report from previous games this season. I feel like I have seen that exact same game before at SJP this season. A decent start, failure to take lots of chances, hit the woodwork, concede through poor defending/set pieces. Predictable and inevitable.

The Match

Newcastle started the game well, we created a few chances, had Burnley penned back in their own half, and reduced them to long balls up the pitch. Kenedy looks like a half decent player, as well as having pace and a bit of skill, he isn’t half a unit as well! He nearly had a debut to remember after his strike hit the post… it perhaps went unnoticed that Atsu missed an absolute sitter with the rebound from Kenedy’s strike.

As for Atsu, I thought he had a really bad night at the office. He looked tired even, this was highlighted by losing an out and out race with Kevin Long! He will have to improve, with Kennedy coming in, Murphy improving in form and Ritchie there too, his good form over Christmas seems like a while ago now.

A penalty eventually came (when was our last Premier League penalty?? I can’t remember, I am sure someone like Chris Holt will have the stat for that) as Bardsley brought down Kenedy in the box and it looked like we would go 1-0 up in front of the Gallowgate. Joselu would fail to convert the penalty as a weak strike coupled with Pope guessing the right way, left him with his head in his hands.

I had a disagreement with a fella on the way home who said Joselu shouldn’t have been anywhere near the penalty and Lascelles should have stepped in to say ‘no you’re not taking it’. However, for me, if your centre forward and your top scorer (albeit with four goals) isn’t grabbing the ball after a penalty is given, then I would be worried. I had no problems with him taking the penalty.

Lascelles finally put us 1-0 up with a mountain of a header. Fair play to him, you can’t ask much more from your skipper than what he gives us.

What was evident, is that Burnley are a massive side. That is the first time that I have really seen Lascelles bullied by a bigger, stronger striker. In all the times I have been critical of him, it is because he has been caught in behind being unable to deal with pace, or too hesitant. After watching Burnley last night, I can actually understand why Chelsea were supposedly taking a look at Ashley Barnes.

Even though they didn’t look like scoring, the Burnley equaliser came as no surprise. It has become almost inevitable under this side, especially after the Joselu miss that would have wrapped the game up for us. I was slightly disappointed with the naivety of the Newcastle defence for the corner. I have played at a pretty high level, and when you are up against a big team, what they want from set-pieces is as few players in the box as possible in order to get a clearer run at the ball.

Burnley out-tricked us by taking a man over for a short corner, of which they had absolutely no intention of ever playing. What this did was drag two NUFC players out of the box, thus giving their big players more space to be able to attack the ball when it came in. When the box is crowded, it’s almost impossible to beat your man sometimes, or find space for a free header. However, Newcastle allowed themselves to go man for man in a box filled with space and they were punished by a bigger side.

What made the goal even more sickening was Phil Bardsley giving it the big one in front of the home fans. Although, I am sure he had been waiting since the return game at Turf Moor for that moment, as the Newcastle away end didn’t half shower him with abuse that night as he warmed up in front of them.

Such a frustrating end to a game, after such a frustrating month.

Rafa Benitez

Eight changes were made from the side that went out of the FA Cup at the weekend. I just don’t think that this is sustainable going into the end of the season. For me, Rafa has to find his best team as quickly as possible.

In the middle of the park I thought Diame was brilliant, he could actually be a ‘new signing’ if playing to the level he did last night. Alongside Merino, I thought the two of them worked really well together.

On the day, Slimani has come in, along with a goalkeeper who even I’ve never heard of and I play football manager! So let’s hope he is half decent. My girlfriend’s family are all Leicester season ticket holders who speak highly of Slimani. His problem was that he just didn’t fit into the Leicester way of playing, often he was brought in to replace Vardy, and he just doesn’t have the pace to do what Vardy does. Not a case of a flop, maybe just the right player at the wrong club, at the wrong time. Here’s hoping we are the right club for him at the moment.

For Rafa, this month has been a disaster on all fronts. I have to be honest, and I have spoken to a lot of people who have given a wide range of opinions on this, but I just don’t understand why Rafa Benitez is still sticking it out here.

The Fans

I think the guys behind the flags got the message spot on. This game had the potential to provide a really negative atmosphere but the banners showed a message that we are still going to get behind the team.

As for Joselu, he hasn’t half got some stick from some sections of the crowd. He is rubbish in front of goal, I think most of us can agree on that. But his hold play is ok, he wins his fair share in the air, he tries, he presses the backline, his movement is good too. Yes, he isn’t good enough, I know, we all know. But I tell you what, I would take 100 Joselus playing for my football club compared to some of the w…… we have had through these gates down the years.

Last Bit

I am over the PCP takeover for now. If they really wanted to buy the club, as Staveley so desperately said in her interview with Caulkin, then I like to think they would have stumped up the extra 50 odd million (which I find doubly strange given that she was quoting numbers of around 250 million investments, after buying, in the interview). I would rather she took 100 of that 250 and bought the club.

Anyway, all takeover talk is just talk, and I honestly don’t believe that either side give a monkeys about the fans in any of this.

Finally, it is a point I have reiterated time and again over the past month. For those who do consider giving up or not supporting the team… you only have to look 12 miles down the road to see what happens to a club whose supporters have completely given up. Sunderland’s predicament should be a reminder to all of us to keep going and keep fighting.

Keep the Faith.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Burnley 1

Goals:

Newcastle: Lascelles 65

Burnley: Darlow OG 85

Possession was Burnley 48% Newcastle 52%

Total shots were  Burnley 11 Newcastle 14

Shots on target were Burnley 2 Newcastle 4

Corners were  Burnley 4 Newcastle 7

Referee: Simon Hooper

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Atsu (Murphy 64), Diame, Merino, Kenedy (Ritchie 72), Perez (Gayle 85), Joselu

Unused Subs:

Woodman, Shelvey, Manquillo, Hayden,

Crowd: 50,174

(Read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Burnley match HERE)

(There were 8 loan deals in and out of Newcastle on deadline day – Details HERE)

(Newcastle fans protest against Mike Ashley with quality Flags protest – Read HERE)

(Read the match ratings for each Newcastle player HERE)

(Paul Merson’s verdict on Newcastle’s January transfer window – Read HERE)

(Read Sean Dyche’s reaction to the match HERE)

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

To feature like Jonathan Drape-Comyn submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here



  • Martin Rooney

    Oh come on Rafa Benitez is still manager for a number of reasons not least.
    Its the closest, biggest club to his family home that wants him
    He is the worlds 12th highest paid manager on £5m
    He would have to pay the club £6m to get out of his contract
    that means having paid 54% tax he would have to pay the club almost two years take home to leave.

    • Mark Potter

      It’s not about money. He could make more money elsewhere, in China. And since Newcastle is the farthest away from the “middle” of England, then I doubt we are the closest to his family home that want him. Nearly every club that have been in the bottom half have replaced their manager. We know at least one of them (West Ham) were seriously interested in signing Rafa. If he wanted to leave he could have.

      • Martin Rooney

        With not a single chinese employed manager on more than he is on at Newcastle, how do you think he would earn more there. Do a simple search on worlds highest paid football managers and you will see the club is paying top dollar.

        • Mark Potter

          Rafa said it several times in interviews, that he was offered more in China, if he was only interested in money he would go there. It doesn’t mean that any of the existing managers, if they don’t have his level of experience, get paid what they offered him. Just as Carver wasn’t paid what the club offered Rafa.

    • Wor Lass

      Other clubs would queue up to pay the £6 million – it`s peanuts.

      • mentalman

        so why aren’t they, i make it 6 premier league clubs around us ho have changed their manager this season and none have opted for rafa and the list of managers who they have gone for is laughable

        • Wor Lass

          Everton and Stoke made noises and West Ham were sniffing around but, every time, Rafa put himself on record as saying he was going nowhere. He consistently says he loves the city and the fans and that he has a project he would like to see through and I believe him. I`m not happy about some of his negative tactics but I also understand that he hasn`t got the quality of player he needs to go gung-ho. I also don`t like the way Mitro has been handled but expect something will come out in time to explain it. Somethiing has happened behind the scenes there to count Mitro out of the reckoning.

          • Down Under Mag

            Yeah I think theres more to Mitro not getting a game too. His “negative” tactica are producing a load of chances every game. If he was allowed to get the quality in he deserves we’d probably be winning games 5-2 or something. Its not his fault he has an appallingly bad strike force.

          • mentalman

            it is really, other than perez he’s bought every striker we have at the club

          • Kneebotherm8

            I think West Ham are still interested,they’ve only given Moyes a deal till the end of the season.

          • mentalman

            he can’t openly say he wants to leave in case it doesn’t happen, he’d lose the fans

      • Martin Rooney

        So why aren’t they, theres a lot of managers been binned and not one of them stumped up the release clause?

        • Wor Lass

          I`m not sure what your question is exactly, Martin. Noone has stumped up the release clause for Rafa, if that`s what you mean, because he doesn`t want to leave. If he did/when he does then I`m positive someone would if it`s still an issue.Don`t forget, he`s won at least 9 major trophies in several different countries and he 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. That`s quality that doesn`t come around every day.

    • wheyayeman

      Decent players are changing clubs for 25-55 million, a good manager on £5 million is nowt !

      • Martin Rooney

        Yes of course, there are a lot of clubs knocking his door down aren’t there. That is of course £12m out of their transfer budget so unless ‘they’ are a club about to be bought by some rich ruskies or Arab’s then its not happening.

        • wheyayeman

          It took the best part of a week Martin, but that reply was well worth the wait 😂

    • toonterrier

      I’m sure he could get a job with the BBC as they pay money for doing nowt.

  • thewildchimp

    Our last Prem penalty before this one was in 2015/16 vs. Norwich, Mitro scored for the second equaliser but we conceded in the stoppage time for the 3-2 final result.

    But I’m not so sure: was a long ago, wasn’t it?

    • Clarko

      Tottenham.

      • thewildchimp

        Ah, you’re right, forgot about that one!

    • Geordiegiants

      I wouldn’t, and Mahrez deserves a move after what he has done for them. He stuck it out this season when Arsenal wanted him, when one of the best playing sides in the world come in for you, it’s very difficult to turn down. Even Shearer would of went given the opportunity.

      • Wor Lass

        He`s been brilliant for them and does deserve a move to a bigger club but he doesn`t deserve to spit his dummy out and refuse to play. He`s let down his team-mates, his manager, the club and – most importantly – the fans. If he keeps his head down and plays well then the move`ll happen in the summer and probably for more money.

        • Geordiegiants

          I don’t disagree, there is three parties involved, Leicester wanted more money, simple as that they didn’t say they wouldn’t sell him, they wanted £80m. Citeh we’re trying it on. He happily signed a £100g a week contract for five years so he has to stay if he is told to, but it’s not all just blame Mahrez is what I’m saying, he is a professional and works hard, everyone in every walk of life wants to get to the top of their profession. There is nothing wrong in that, fans from all clubs need to understand it’s a mercenary sport now.

          • Wor Lass

            True. I agree with Gary Neville, for once – he needs to sack his agent for not having a reasonable buy-out clause.

      • molend

        Is that why Shearer went to Man U then?

        • Geordiegiants

          I think if you listen to him he would of went to Man U if he didn’t think he could of won silverware at Newcastle, it back fired, but if we were a club like Leisecter with no chance of winning anything, even he would of went.

        • Geordiegiants

          I think that you will find that Shearer has said he would of went to Manure if he did’nt think he had a chance of winning a trophy at Newcastle. Thing didn’t work out, but he thought we could win something.

  • Down Under Mag

    Frustrating end to the game yes, but so predictable. We sat back once Joselu missed the chance to go 2 up and we invited pressure onto ourselves. The players had a major panic attack and we were lucky not to lose the game in the end.

    As for Rafa staying…there is talk of a 6m clause in his contract meaning either he pays Ashley 6 million quid if he walks before the final 12 months of his contract. If true it explains a lot because I cant see him being excited with the constraints he is being forced to work under right now.

    • thewildchimp

      I think he genuinely likes Newcastle, considering that he is somewhat
      involved in the community, just that he’s a bit of a thorn when it comes
      to work.
      I think he’ll decide during the summer, when he’ll test Ashley again and there’s also that vague possibility of Mike selling.

      • Down Under Mag

        I think hes waiting for the summer and hopefully a takeover. As hes said himself, not all his signings work out but hes always managed to break even or thereabouts in the market.

    • Kneebotherm8

      That’s the way I understand the contract situation too,he’ll consider his options at the end of the season when he’ll be free to walk.
      All this talk of Ashley offering a contract extension is him covering his back so if/when Benitez walks he’ll be able to say he made every effort to keep him………are we fools enough to believe that?

      • Down Under Mag

        Yeah. Think it all hinges on a summer sale to be honest. Otherwise i suspect he will leave pronto.

  • JonMag

    couple of things about Rafa, i don`t like his negative tactics and i don`t like the way he treats certain players, if we were established in the premiership i wouldn`t shed any tears if he left, if a manager who attacked was available. his player selection also irks me, as it is he`s here & he`s staying.

    • Kneebotherm8

      We’ll never be established in the premier league under this owner……have you learnt nothing this past 10 years?

  • Geordiegiants

    Rafa Benítez, he has nothing to work with really. If Rafa had a squad like even Everton let’s say, I would be very unhappy with the style of play. If we had a squad like Man City I would be calling for his head, but he has a squad like Burton with 2/3 prem players max. What the fack do people want him to do? Our strongest players are our defenders, so he is playing to our strengths, we don’t have forwards and haven’t for about three or four seasons, with the exception of Gayle last season.
    We haven’t got the ability to attack attack attack. Simple in my book.

    • JonMag

      there`s many a game we`ve been on top, scored then went defensive instead of pressing to kill the game, that`s down to the manager,
      he starts with a point and anything else is a bonus,
      negative, negative, negative !

      • hetonmag

        So is your effing posts.

  • John

    You mean fans who refuse to line the pockets of an owner who’s intention is to bury the club…

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Yes good chance of Sunderland going down again so jumping ship does not lead to new signings or a takeover. Rafa is still here as he cares and a man of honour unlike other managers who have walked out of the club. It’s been a good transfer window of many reasons. If any of the ignorant fans who held up that negative banner are at Selhurst Park on Sunday look towards the corner flag and you will see proper fans backing their club with proper flags creating lot’s of noise. Could have done with a few of them there on Wednesday supporting us.

    • Wor Lass

      So Keegan “jumped ship” and isn`t a man of honour?

      • Jezza

        Don’t feed the troll, lads.

    • Mitros gotta start

      Shut up you shyte bag….god almighty you spout some b0ll0x at times….and believe me…on this site it takes some doing to be top of the pile…..go support your own team you arent wanted on here……cnutbubble

    • FatParosite

      Bishop. For gods sake block this poster. it’s easy to silence this clickbait. Go to the top of his pathetic provocative rant and look for the – sign and block him… you’ll thank me for it.

      • Wor Lass

        Probably whipping the Bishop!

        • FatParosite

          He does it online style…. text masturbation

  • kingfisher

    I firmly believe that the only 2 reasons Rafa is still here is 1) He knows that the takeover could happen in the summer, and 2) He’s trying to keep us in the Prem.
    There is no other possible reason why a Manager of his repute would stay if we get relegated or the Owner doesn’t sell.

    • mentalman

      there’s nearly 5 million reasons why

      • Jezza

        Rafa has never been short of offers that would pay him at least as much as he is on at Newcastle. He’s not like Souness or McClaren hanging on for grim death knowing they’ll never get another job, he could walk into any number of top jobs tomorrow if he wanted to.

        • mentalman

          since the end of last season there have been 50 clubs in the top 5 leagues in europe replaced their manager and i don’t recollect there being many approaches made for him.

          As for the premier league there have been 9 managers replaced this season and none made a serious approach for rafa. i know that the compensation is a lot but as he is the tactical genius you all claim he is surely 6million to keep your club in the prem is a good deal.

          Rafa’s reputation is not what it used to be which will be the reason why he approached the club for a job

          • Jezza

            Rather have Joe Kinnear would you?

  • Cuh

    We’re making excuses for Joselu now.

    I remember how we made excuses for Papiss Cisse and how that ended up.

    Learn to say the truth when you need to. Joselu is trash, simple

    • kingfisher

      Don’t think he’s that good! 😁

    • Wor Lass

      He says he`s rubbish in front of goal (which is the main reason he`s in the team!) but he does other things well. I reckon that`s true. He shouldn`t be in the team based on his performances and maybe he won`t be now we`ve got a CF who, presumably, Rafa will trust and play. Incidentally, Clark has been poor this season, in my opinion, and he missed a couple of good chances on Sunday but he hasn`t had any abuse. People on here do like their whipping boys. Take SloMo – he`s been good lately but there are still people coming on here straight after the match when he`s played well (even MoM contender) and said he shouldn`t be anywhere near the team. If the Hoss gets stabled now and SloMo keeps playing well it`ll be Perez`s turn again.

      • hetonmag

        Exactly some people on here are blinkered as far as Diami is concerned, for all he gets pelters the lad never hides. People should put there bias to one side for a change and tell it how it is.

        • molend

          Can’t fault his effort, but somehow nothing he attempts ever seems to come off. He’ll have a shot, but it’ll be wide/weak. He’ll break up an attack then lose the ball. he’ll make a tackle, but it’s never decisive. Still, he’s there till the end of the season, so we’ve got to encourage him.

          • hetonmag

            Everyone has an opinion about Diami but the last few games have seen an upturn in his form, and Wed night is the best I’ve see him since coming to this club.

          • molend

            Agreed, but he didn’t have much of an impact on the game, did he?

          • hetonmag

            Well he had more impact than quite a few, I don’t think I’m making much of an impact on your way of thinking of him. Even if I don’t like a player if he has a good game I will say so.

          • molend

            Fair enough, he was better than some of the others, but that’s not saying a lot, is it? And it’s not that I don’t like him. If he turns in a really good performance, I’ll be the first to congratulate him.

      • Peter Graham

        Agree completely with your comment about Clark. Incredibly overrated and he gets an easy ride as he doesn’t make many ‘obvious’ errors. His postioning in consistently poor and his lack of aggression is pitiful. There’s a reason why he was never a regular starter in a bang average Villa team.

      • Geordiegiants

        Clark like Collo had a good season in the championship, he isn’t good enough for the premier like Collo.

    • Jezza

      Agreed. Joselu is simply not good enough. Having had to rely on him as our first choice striker this season is the main reason we are in this mess.

  • FatParosite

    Answer: Money

    • kingfisher

      I don’t think it’s money Fat. He must be a millionaire, after all he donated £96,000 to The Hillsborough disaster fund.As I have said, I think he knows something (hopefully) could happen re – the takeover at seasons end!

    • Jezza

      Rafa could walk into any number of jobs tomorrow and earn at least as much as he is on at Newcastle.

      • Cockneytrev

        Exactly,,,,,,

  • kingfisher

    In simple terms, we are expecting one man to score enough goals to keep us up.I don’t think Slamani alone will score enough goals for us to avoid relevation.Goals have got to come from elsewhere, and seeing as we hav’nt been able to score goals up ’till now, I see no reason why things should miraculously change !
    When you look at the table, only 4 points separate us and Bournemouth in 10th place, so it’s all to play for. I hope I’m wrong but as I say I really can’t see 1 new striker making a great deal of difference.It’s a bit like when Rafa first came here,too little,too late to save us!

    • Wor Lass

      When we`re drawing games and losing by the odd goal we don`t need to score many more to improve a lot.

    • Mal

      A decent striker would have turned some of our draws into wins and some of our defeats into draws. A classic example was the Burnley game when Hoss missed 2 gilt edged chances. I haven’t seen enough of Slimani to judge him but if he’s any good he’ll make a big difference and will hopefully help us to stay up. Kenedy looked good so hopefully all is not lost yet.HTL

      • kingfisher

        Good point Mal.My worry is if we’re relying on him, if he gets injured,we’re basically stuffed !

        • molend

          He is injured. And he can’t play against Leicester

  • Coble’s Return

    Rafa’s an astute man and I am sure that there are many reasons that he continues at the helm of this listing ship, even though he must question daily the way things have played out since he first took the job. Fact his, he sees that Ashley wants out and that new owners might just take their responsibilities towards the club seriously. This is a long term project for him and whilst there is always the possibility the Ashley’s disgraceful attitude could derail that, he clearly isn’t a quitter. Sure – the £6million clause might cause him to hang on for a bit longer than he would otherwise, but having embraced the task and the region, he is not going to walk away without knowing that he gave it a decent shot.

  • toonterrier

    Its was interesting to find out that after the Staveley deal failed Rafa came out and said he knew three weeks earlier that the sale wouldn’t happen yet he said nothing about it and that was after he had said that he wanted new players in before the last week of the transfer window. Maybe he doesn’t want to make waves and is happy to stay till the last year of his contract before he walks away without having to give fatty money for breaking his contract.

    • Kneebotherm8

      It would have been very amateurish for Benitez to make that public…….that was for Ashley to publicize at whatever time……it wasn’t really Rafa’s domain or concern,his remit is the football team at the club………
      Then again maybe Ashley was throwing the bait to Benitez hoping he blurted it out and maybe somehow breached the terms of his contract……I wouldn’t put owt past Ashley…….one conniving individual..

  • ghostrider

    “Don’t understand why Rafa Benitez is still sticking it out here”

    Try 5/6 million a year wages.

    • Waxi

      Rafa would get 5 to 6 million from other clubs and they would pay his contract up so that does not answer why he is sticking around.

      • ghostrider

        No other clubs are lining up to take him on, are they?
        Who wants to pay a manager 5/6 million a year to produce the football Rafa does?
        Even Ashley didn’t see this one coming.

      • Geordiegiants

        Don’t feed the troll.

  • SAMTHECAT

    He likes a challenge, its a different kind of challenge to managing Real Madrid but a challenge nevertheless. I think the squad and Rafa have slightly underperformed this season, we should have 3-6 points more at this point, but survival will be a success. As for the future i can see him going to Spurs or Arsenal next season.

  • GToon

    It could be and I hope it is because if he gets it right at this club then the whole place will literally take off. You can forget the money backed Manchester and London clubs. A Newcastle United that is allowed to punch its weight on and off the pitch would be unstoppable. I hope that’s the reason.