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.”



  • Clarko

    I hope Slimani starts, I just can’t watch Joselu or Gayle anymore.

    • Rich Lawson

      Me to,it seems vaguely encouraging,I’d take Slimani on one leg rather than the two you mention if it’s possible.

      • thewildchimp

        At least he could head the ball in…

        • TheFatController

          Has Murphy ever played up front for coventry or Norwich? I’d rather have him go up front away from home, getting on the shoulder, down the channels and being direct than have two sometime strikers who have no confidence …

          His finish at City Joss and Gayle could only dream of at the moment …

          • Peaky Magpie

            Aye why not,the lads coming on canny I think and can only get better…

          • TheFatController

            If Perez can lead the line away from home I don’t see why he can’t, I just remember him scoring a fair few with Armstrong at Cov, and doesn’t Josh play up front for Norwich?

            It’s a big step up I know but we seem to have nothing to lose until Slimani is fit and up to speed

    • Peaky Magpie

      Gayle seems to be getting off lightly because of Hoss….he’s not that much better himself this season.

    • mactoon

      As small as the thigh problem may be I doubt he would start him. Probably on the bench

    • Wor Lass

      Good grief, Clarko – a judgementally-tinged comment related to footballing matters. And I agree with you! Aaagh – I`m going to end it all!!

  • FatParosite

    Rafa seems to be treading on eggshells. But now I’m convinced all he wants is the money. Whether it’s a pay off or the nice mid range premiership salary, it’s the money he wants.

  • kingfisher

    I’ve just read an article on the BBC site by Arsene Wenger entitled:
    ‘In December, we knew four champions’ – Money destroying competition, says Wenger

    I’m lost for words,surely a case ofsour grapes,considering their current league position.Why not get off your high horse Arsene, and try managing a team without spending the zillions that you have at Arsenal. He would’nt last 5 minutes up here under Ashley !

    • Lord

      I believe if Ashley owned Arsenal and treated the club in the same way he treats ours, he would have been hounded out by the press years ago.

      • FatParosite

        Not just the press. I’d wager even their fickle fans would have not given Ashley a season. It just goes to show how $hi7 our local journos are & yes how double $hi7 our fans are.

    • Jonas

      He’s being a bit lenient there. Everybody knows the champions of France and Germany for the next10years now.PL is heading the same way – the only question is will attendances stay like Germanys, in spite of it?.

      Spanish league is the most competitive major league now and still it will be shared by two clubs 90-95% of the time.

      Juventus have earned their success the old fashioned way, which is fine.

      • Lord

        I’ve got a fair bit of time for Wenger but he is prone to the odd bit of nonsense. Complaining about an non-competitive league a few days after being beaten by bottom of the table Swansea. Hmm.

      • thewildchimp

        And the remaining 5% would be Athletico Madrid’s share. :)

    • TheFatController

      In December, we thought arsenal would get points at Bournemouth and Swansea …

  • Paul Patterson

    This is how Rafa works. He’s a master politician. It’s a side some people don’t read into. He’s fighting many fires at this club and people need to realise that.
    Until the chief arsonist goes he/we can’t flourish.

    • ghostrider

      No smoke without fire.
      He knows a lot more than he’s letting the fans know about his role.
      He knows he’s safe compared to Ashley in terms of fan acceptance of him.

      He’s near a point where he could literally soak the fans in his urine from a height and Ashley would be blamed for wearing a Rafa mask. lol

      • Lord

        Ashley takes the urine, he doesn’t give it away.

        • ghostrider

          He also absorbs bile like a boss.

          • Albert Stubbins

            My boss sits in the office next to me. Where’s Ashley? Finding Wally would be easier although I know who the Wally is in this case.

          • AP69

            He also absorbs millions and millions of pounds from the club
            The club can spend what it generates but he won’t let it generate from shirt sales or advertising as that all goes to Tat Direct
            The tv money just disappears unlike the interest free loan

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            When? He’s taken most out.

          • AP69

            That’s what I’m saying

            He’s absorbed the money the club generates under the guise of his tat shop

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            No, he’s not

          • AP69

            Yes he is, has and will continue to do so

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            When? I’m pretty au fait with the club numbers, it’s not happened.

          • AP69

            Ok
            Very little net spend on players in 10 years
            So it’s not been spent there
            So where has the tv money gone

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            According to the figures, mainly on wages, running the club and recovering the club from a 16m insolvent position to a surplus of £34m

          • AP69

            Wages gone down year on year

            It must be on the heating bills

            Doubt we will agree and as it’s Friday you can Have adrink to the fat one

            I’ll drown my sorrows

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I’m off the ale for a couple of weeks but I’ll post to explain tomorrow.

          • Wezza147

            Yes and everything Ashley has ever done has all been above board eh? Also the HMRC investigation? Quite easy to manipulate the numbers.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            The HMRC investigation is nothing to with manipulation of figures. It’s simply a test case to see if football clubs are avoiding NI by making payment to agents. We seem to be the club they go after, they did the same with VAT in the Shepherd era. HMRC are makems.

          • Wezza147

            Oh please. I never said it was to do with manipulation of the numbers. I know exactly what the HMRC investigation is for. My point was Ashley’s experiences have not been squarely clean. SD below minimum wage = illegal. Lying to the fans and deliberately misleading them and the press is admitted in court. Yet you and others (pr drones) are the ONLY people even in the area (not from) would ever make excuses and be apologetic towards MA.
            You convince nobody and I will make use of the block function now!

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            That’s fine, ignorance is bliss I suppose.

          • AP69

            If he’s ran the club so well

            How have we been relegated twice (only 4 times previously)
            And in this time when football is awash with money

            Why are we skint?????

            He’s turned us into a yo yo club man

            It amazes me people can support him it really does

            The money has gone somewhere and the running of the club is a poor poor excuse

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            We have been out of the top division for more than 20% of our history, 2 years out of 10 is good for NUFC. The reason why historically, we’d not been relegated more often is really down to our inability to be promoted.

            We’re not skint, it’s simply that he will not allow us to mortgage the future as other clubs have or compare to Huddersfield, they had such a low cost base before, the premier league money could do a heap of good.

            we’re no more a yo yo club than others in this league (barring the top 6)

            I’m not supporting, I’m just giving perspective. I’d like a takeover, I’d like a load of investment BUT I’d be wary of some owners (PCP seem OK but don’t expect a revolution). I’d like supporters to stop bleating and put there OWN money in to buy the club and this blame game can stop.

            The problem I have is NUFC fans are often an embarrassment with their snowflakeness re. Ashley. No other bunch of supporters would moan about Wonga whilst having had an alcohol company, cable tv company, financial institution that bought down the countries’ economy.

            I’m not sure if the formatting will be OK but here’s an idea of what has happened with the money:

            2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
            Net Assets (£16) (£36) (£51) (£68) (£35) (£34) (£24) (£6) £26 £31
            Revenue £87 £99 £86 £52 £88 £93 £96 £129 £129 £125
            profit (loss) (£34) (£20) (£15) (£17) £32 £2 £10 £18 £32 £5
            Wage ratio 74% 75% 82% 90% 60% 68% 64% 60% 50% 59%

            The net assets is the solvency of the business, the club was in trouble in the years 2007 – 2009 because we had a horrible wage bill, basically too many older non-performing high earners, 2010 was in the championship where we still had a premier league wage bill with Championship income. 2012 onward, the club is starting to look a far more stable club and eminently investable.

          • AP69

            I won’t go into the impressive detail you have but he said two years ago the club can invest from what it makes

            We’ve got loan players in when investment was required
            Let the club have income from shirt sales and advertising

            His only interest is sports direct

            We will never thrive with him as owner

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I agree, we will not thrive with him, he lost interest after KK, revived it with Pardew and now resigned to selling up.

            We do get the money from shirt sales, it (the sd deal) works well for nufc.

            Advertising, in an ideal world, I agree but there is a bit more to it than just a freebie for his company. The issue is the City, SD are on the stock market, the stock market does not like majority owners getting their companies into beneficial deals with other businesses they own. To avoid this accusation, SD didn’t pay for the advertising but the trade off for the club is free money.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            If it’s easy to manipulate numbers, Stavely’s team seemed very happy with her DD.

            The big question you need to ask is WHY? Why would Ashley want to Syphon money out when he can legitimately take £144m out tax free?

          • Wezza147

            Of course he has. Where has all the money gone has gone is right! Yet the Ashley apologists will never admit it.
            Why else would he have the club? He has taken millions from the club.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            He’s not though. Show me where this money has gone. It’s all documented.

            This is pub talk taken as fact.

          • AP69

            See you change the wording from most out to nowt out

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Yes, the phone tried to auto–correct. He’s taken nothing out of the club, I don’t know where you get the idea that he’s absorbed millions?

          • AP69

            Looks like your phone agrees

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Ha, it’s not set up for proper words like ‘nowt’

          • ghostrider

            Nah, it doesn’t disappear. It goes into running the football club.
            Just because you think it doesn’t, doesn’t make it so.

          • AP69

            Wow we are THE most expensive club in the world to run

            Thanks for the insight

            And just because you don’t..

            Yada yada

          • Lord

            I’m not sure that’s true about absorbing bile. I heard he gets rid of it into fireplaces.

          • Big Al 1967

            Surely only an employee would know who a boss works? Slipping again!

    • JonMag

      how`s he ended up as just another puppet, master my a $$

  • JonMag

    he can`t go to far as he`s an employee, in the last year it`s obvious he has no say in transfers they just hoy his lists in the bin. he`s know more than the rest of them before him were, a 1st team coach

  • thewildchimp

    Well, hounding out the owner isn’t his job, anyway. Fans should have that pleasure.

    • TheNutJob

      an SS Panzer division couldn`t hound fatty out

  • 1957

    Kennedy attacks with some purpose and is a step up from our usual wide players. I hope Benitez plays Murphy (as opposed to Ritchie or Atsu) he is beginning to get to grips with the PL and is creating chances

  • TheNutJob

    Fatty stitched the whole kit & kaboodle up before breakfast,
    the blonde, Rafa et al and they didn`t even see it coming

    😂😂😂

    • Albert Stubbins

      Blondesided!! Lol

  • Peaky Magpie

    Divvent worry lads once the ketamine wears off King Carthoss of Spain will be chomping at the bit to tear those Palace gates down on Sunday…….🤣🤣

    • kingfisher

      Gadzooks Peaky, your eternal optimism never ceases to amaze me.Have you stopped taking your meds?💊💊💊😁

      • Peaky Magpie

        😂😂 Living in The Peaks mate,bloody freezing & seems to have snowed since November,the UKs Alaska…

        • kingfisher

          What you need is a few of these:🍺🍺🍺

    • Paul Patterson

      Anybody good with gambling odds? I don’t do it myself, but I bet the odds on Joselu scoring a hat trick (anytime this season) will be huge.

      • Peaky Magpie

        Not a gambler myself Paul but they are bound to be long odds,Leazes will probably know via his connections to BetVictor ! 😁😁

        • Geordiegiants

          Ha ha what a belta, Peaky! 🤣😂

      • JonMag

        Lunatic
        😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
        Hoss & Hat trick 5 zillon to 1

        • Peaky Magpie

          The only hat trick the Hoss knows anything about involves rabbits & the late Paul Daniels….

        • Paul Patterson

          Scarily it probably won’t be that high.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    The people who made the banner have no place at Newcastle United Football Club and never will. What Rafa is saying is we came up the season is going to be hard please support the club. I have enough on my plate with out having to deal with you morons please go away. Well done Rafa

    • JonMag

      You wearing your chav Lonsdale gear & Donnay trainers, you madman

      • Paul Patterson

        And his Mike Ashley face mask by the sounds of it . .

    • Finnbar

      No problem with you voicing your opinion MM,this is after all a democracy that we live in within the U.K
      For that very reason the fans who raised the banners on Wednesday for protest, in a very dignified and visually impacting display,have every democratic right to do so.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        Where were the Rafa banners and the legends banners to support the club on an important night to keep us up no where to be seen these fans want us relegated.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Translated into English Rafa asked the fans players and the club to remain united in the battle for relegation. The fans in the Gallowgate end if you can call them fans have let Rafa and the club down would not surprise me if he walked at the end of the season because of you miss guided actions. I blame the parents.

    • Mirandinha9

      Do you agree with Keegan’s sentiments?

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        No he walked out on the club three times twice under Hall and Shepherd once when we were top of the league in January so no he let us down badly. When Ashley took us over we were in a mess bankrupt just look at Sunderland and Middlesbrough it is not easy in the North East but Ashley has done better than Gibson and Short two men who have done their best for there clubs and put lots of money in and failed.

        • Mirandinha9

          Keegan, was and always will be, Newcastle’s greatest signing.

      • Billy Ellwood

        I agree with KK’s quote. Let’s face it – KK knew it way back then. He’s a great judge of players and obviously a sound judge of Mike Ashley.

  • Leazes.

    The fans want Rafa to take on the club…. that’s what a ‘Rafalution’ is!

    We didn’t want him as another patsy for crying out loud… but it seems that is what we have got.

  • Billy Ellwood

    I feel the reason that Rafa is not getting involved in an argument with Ashley right now is that it will be counter-productive to us staying in this division. He may know more than we do about a future offer in the summer to buy us, but we clearly need to stay up to do that.
    The banner was awesome in my opinion.