Rafa Benitez was on great form when speaking ahead of the key match with Southampton.

A real relegation six pointer as fifth bottom meets fourth bottom but if the United boss is feeling the pressure, he wasn’t showing it.

One of the benefits of having a manager who has won league titles and the Champions League, as well as indeed relegation struggles early in his career (and the 10 match attempt to save Newcastle in 2016).

With a three week gap between matches, Rafa Benitez has revealed he is taking his players away for a four day trip.

Though with recent events elsewhere, especially Alan Pardew’s West Brom adventure, the Newcastle Manager is keen to stress that the trip is just about training and playing a friendly match, rather than any other kind of fun in the sun.

It is a massive prize for the players if they win this afternoon, it would then mean 21 days waiting for the next match but in the knowledge that they’d already taken a massive step towards securing safety.

A win today and Newcastle would be four points ahead of the Saints and up to five clear of the drop zone.

An amusing moment when talking about the trip away, came when asked if the players would be allowed to drink.

Deliberately pretending to misunderstand the question, Rafa Benitez replied ‘Yes, they can drink water, no problem!’

Rafa Benitez:

“I don’t usually like to take everyone away from their families…

“I am not very keen to go to Spain to enjoy the sun because I have been there all of my life, so I never need to do that.

“But 21 days without a game is too long.

“We have an option in Spain from Thursday until Sunday.

“We will train and then play Sunday – a match against a team who will be competitive.

“If we go there, it is because we have to play a game against a competitive team, we will train and try to keep everyone together.

“The good thing is that the complex where we will be, it is not in the middle of a town, so they have to stay there – relax and focus on football.

“I have not had big problems with my teams in the past, although the most famous was in Portugal with Liverpool, where we had a few problems…although we then beat Barcelona.

“The idea is to go next week, try to play a game and then come back.”

‘Will the players be allowed to drink?’

“Yes, they can drink water, no problem!”

  • ghostrider

    I presume all the players families are going to Spain with the players, right?
    It’s important that the players get to spend the time off with their families….right?

    Why else would anyone take players away to somewhere like Spain?

    Is it because Rafa feels a bit homesick and wants a few days back in his own country so his excuse is to organise a friendly game?

    Imagine telling your players that they have 3 weeks without a game but they’ll have 4 days in Spain….but it’s training and not for winding down or enjoying.

    It’s like taking a bunch of kids to disneyland and telling them they are there to exercise and not to enjoy what’s on offer.
    What a load of cobblers.

    How about not going to Spain and using the 3 weeks to work on real tactics that will help keep them in the league and to push on and leave Spain until the end of the season, if players want to take their families….on their own…not with a group of men that will be like chaining a pack of dogs to a lamppost and expecting that none will chew their way out of the situation.

    • TheNutJob

      Don`t be silly, they are only going for 4 days, it`s not like joining the
      Foreign Legion

    • Jimmy_toons


    • Wor Lass

      You need to get away somewhere yourself for a few days. N Korea`s opening up a bit at the minute.

    • Paul Patterson

      You really need to see someone, because your comments are either deliberately made to go against the norm or you suffer from something . .

      • East Durham Mag

        Being a t w @ t?

      • ghostrider

        The norm?
        What’s the norm?
        Do you mean my own thoughts against mass forum thoughts render me as some kind of lunatic?
        This is a way out way to look at things but I want you to seriously think about it.
        Conscription to an armed force would be masses of people being basically bullied into fighting against other like-minded conscriptors.

        Those that oppose having to kill someone they do not know or many people they do not know, are called cowards.
        Imagine that.
        Don’t follow the masses and you are a trouble maker or a coward and are against everything that the masses are brainwashed into.

        So you tell me what the norm is, because to me it looks like brainwashing of the masses to make stuff appear like the norm, in cases like this.

        • Paul Patterson

          Because of your logic/mantra against the clubs manager, you’ve turned going away on a training trip to sunny Spain for FOUR days (a tactic used by many clubs regardless of it’s merits) while the club have no games for THREE WEEKS, into . . . people being forced into the armed forces to be killed?
          I can’t and won’t argue with someone who is that bloody idiotic . .

          • ghostrider

            Then don’t argue with me. Ignore me and be done with it. Or is that too difficult for you?

        • Mark Potter

          There is no brainwashing. This is like a pre-season friendly, nothing else. Three weeks without a game is a long time. If they have to abroad to get the game then fine, because lower league sides in England will be playing league games the weekend we miss Spurs due to the cup fixture.

          Since it’s a friendly then there will be plenty of substitutions and everyone gets a chance. Hopefully Slimani will be fitter and might get a chance (finally) to show what be can do.

          I can see no negative side to this. Making a massive issue out of it demonstrates how much you’ve become obsessed by criticising everything that Rafa does. Criticising the negative tactics is one thing, but this…

          Give your head a shake. This is nothing like conscripts being sent off to war. Nothing.

    • Keeganontherebound

      Rafa is at the toon because he wants to be in England, where his family are based. His last job in Spain was managing Real Madrid so if he was homesick I’m pretty sure he could find another decent club there. The players a professionals not children at Disneyland. I hardly think professional footballers are going to be upset to be asked to train and play a game in Spain over a four-day period. Just bide your time anyway, you and and you rafa-hating types. When your hero Ashley finally hounds him out of the club we’ll no doubt get some neandertal manager like Warnock who will ‘have a go’ and get the ball to the big lad in the box. At least I’ll be able to look forward to watching the toon just down the road in Morecambe in a few years’s time…

      • ghostrider

        First of all there’s very little any other manager could do to produce worse football than we’re being shown.
        As for professional players going away on a trip to sunny climate and just being angels, is easy to say and hard to produce.
        W.B.A players are testament to what happens with a few…and it only takes a few to upset the applecart.

        If anything happens, Rafa is to blame.
        If nothing happens and they come back and basically self destruct for the rest of the season, then Rafa’s to blame.

        However..on the flip side; If they come back and produce the goods in a positive fashion, then Rafa can take all the plaudits he can get.

        Let’s see what happens.

        • Keeganontherebound

          No manager who could produce worse football? Have you forgotten the Allardici days? The performance against ManUre was the best I’ve seen in ages.

          • Antenociticus

            I’ve seen much worse than that.
            Carver. . .

            Gordon Lee destroying the team we had with Supermac.

            Richard Dinnis, horrible football.

            Jack Charlton bollocking Beardsley for playing football,
            Charlton couldn’t handle the truth either, when we booed him during the Sheff Utd pre-season debacle. He took his fishing tackle and went home.

    • Fatwasp

      Do you genuinely hate Newcastle United or are you just aiming to provoke a response mate? You put loads of energy into these posts. I’m curious -which club do you really follow? Be open and we can have some proper banter… all comers are welcome but it would be good to know so we can have some sport. Cheers

      • ghostrider

        Ok, let this be the last time that I need to answer as to my allegiance to a football club….ok?

        I’m a Newcastle United fan and supporter for over 45 years.
        I’ve sen the real good, the real bad and the real ugly, almost in equal amounts when sectioned out.

        I’ve seen good owners who mean well to bad owners who mean well..and owners who meant well but were bad owners who turned into hated owners who still meant well but did not bring in the correct people to oversee a vision.

        And blah blah blah…as we all know.
        I’ve seen good managers and average managers and some well below standard managers who have come and go at this club.

        I rate Benitez in the average managers camp at this moment in time…and I do not care one iota what his credentials were or are before he came here.

        In all my time being a fan of this football club, Rafa’s brand of football is arguably the worst I’ve ever seen in terms of what a manager has at his disposal to do otherwise, but rarely does.

        So there you go. I go on what I see. I make my points on what I believe.
        I do not follow mass opinion for the sake of it and I do not go against it for the sake of it, either.

        However, if mass opinion is bigging Rafa up in every aspect of just about everything, then it’s only natural I’m going to oppose it which will also naturally make me appear to simply go against any and everything the masses say.

        I could very easily sit and argue as to why the masses always go against me but then I’d be labelled as a psycho or twisted or antagonistic, or just deliberately pretending to be obtuse or to some, actually being obtuse.

        Here’s a simple solution for those who don’t want to see any objections to their Rafa posts, or whatever. Just place me on ignore and I disappear. It’s so simple to do because I’ve binned a few.

        You never see their posts or their names, again.

        Try it.

        • Fatwasp

          Ha haaaaaa. He bites. Gotcha. X

    • Ram Kishore

      I thought u were just being rational and sometimes/ most annoyed with the playing style.. but what u just said here is like being irrationally narcissistic

      • ghostrider

        Why is it?

        • Ram Kishore

          Idk what u found wrong with the manager keeping the players matchfit? When there is 21 day break that could break the momentum and also it could give us something to.cheer about and entertainment..
          Why would Rafa need a holiday?

          • Damon Horner

            Has to be a first. Taking your football team on holiday with you. If Rafa wanted a holiday he’d just give them 4 days off surely!

          • Ram Kishore

            Ghostrider needs exorcism

  • TheNutJob

    Hola, Buenos dias.
    the boys will pagger that lot from Southampton then fly out to sunny skies.

  • Steven05

    Rafa Benitez has used a spoon to eat his his breakfast cereal. I don’t agree with this – they must be more to it, best get rid

    • Ram Kishore

      Lol what did you say..i.didnt get ya pal?

      • Steven05

        It seems to some people, (a minority) Rafa can’t do anything right

        Personally – I love the man. He is doing a very good job under the conditions, plus him and his wife both seem to be extremely good human beings

        He is one of the best people to ever be associated with our club. And to the people who disagree – I’m still waiting to be told who we should try to get to replace him

        • KRS1

          Totally agree! The man is a legend!

    • Wor Lass

      We all use spoons in my house otherwise the milk just runs through your fingers.

      • Rich Lawson

        Must be from Sunderland ? lot of cereal killers there.