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Rafa Benitez on Keegan banner “People are expecting me to criticise the club…”

1 year ago
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Rafa Benitez has been speaking to the media ahead of Sunday’s match.

Newcastle facing a Crystal Palace side with serious injury problems, Roy Hodgson revealing earlier today that he has just about enough first team squad players in order to name 18 on Sunday.

Wednesday night saw another battling performance and a few more chances than usual, Kenedy helping to add a little more attacking intent – some positive runs as well as hitting a post and winning a penalty.

The game ended 1-1 thanks to late pressure and a slightly fortunate goal for Burnley, though another issue has shared the headlines.

The Newcastle fans unveiled the latest flags and these spelt out a message to the owner, a quote from Kevin Keegan (see image above).

Predictably this was brought up at the press conference but Rafa Benitez played it professionally: ‘People are expecting me to criticise the club. I am trying to do my best for the team and the club. I don’t need to be involved. What I am thinking is what is best for the club, that’s it’.

Nothing for the Newcastle manager to gain by further fuelling the issue, no matter what he really thinks…and he will want minimal distractions with only 13 games to go.

Rafa Benitez pre-Crystal Palace press conference:

“We know deadline days are busy for everyone. We did some business, moved some players out, moved some in. We had to concentrate on the game. For the future, (playing on the same day) has to change.

The situation of Mitrović was strange, Anderlecht were saying ‘yes’, then ‘no’. We were surprised. He needs to play before the World Cup. He is a nice lad. It all went the right way in the end.

“The key for us is we have three new players. We have a squad and the players know exactly that they will be here. Your future is to do your best here. It depends on them and on us to win games, get points and stay up.

“Islam Slimani has been working with the physio. He has a small problem with his thigh but it’s not as bad as people thought. He has been on the pitch. Will he be available? We’ll see tomorrow when we train.

“Martin Dúbravka has been training normally and the goalkeepers will have chances. They have to compete. I was really pleased to see the three ‘keepers training well today.

“People are expecting me to criticise the club. I am trying to do my best for the team and the club. I don’t need to be involved. What I am thinking is what is best for the club, that’s it.

“Everyone was upset (after Burnley) on Wednesday night. We deserved to win. We didn’t do it and we have another massive game coming. You cannot be thinking about what we could have done. It is finished.

“We knew about his (Kenedy’s) quality and at the same time, we know he is a young player. He showed his quality. He has to carry on with the same attitude and same confidence.

“I said after the game, he (Joselu) is working so hard for the team. It is a pity when you have a striker missing a penalty. Confidence is important. My message is the same for all the players – we have to carry on.

“It is a good team. They have very good players. It is a difficult stadium, a difficult pitch to get points. It doesn’t matter the name of the other team, we have to try to get three points.

“It is five very close, very narrow (in the Premier League). That is sometimes good. For us, it is another challenge – we do what we have to do in every game. We stay calm and keep working.”

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