Rafa Benitez met the media at lunchtime on Friday.

The United boss giving his press conference ahead of the match at Liverpool on Saturday.

The Newcastle Manager not surprisingly mentioned the weather – but the big question for fans was whether certain players would be fit to play.

On that front (unlike the weather) there were positives and negatives.

Rafa Benitez confirming that Islam Slimani is continuing to work in the gym with physios but isn’t ready to join in with training yet.

As for Jonjo Shelvey, he won’t be available either.

Rafa saying they are waiting on results of scans on his knee and even though Shelvey wants to play, they are exercising caution.

Better news though on Dwight Gayle, with Rafa saying that he is now fine after concerns last weekend about tight hamstrings which forced him off at Bournemouth.

The manager saying that Matt Ritchie had also shaken off a knock.

Rafa Benitez:

 “The weather was fine. We have the indoor and the players are training well.

“Yesterday, we were working very hard. Today, we will train on the grass.

“We try to maximise the time we have. We have analysed videos and done some work indoors.

“The synthetic pitches are much better (than they were) but they are different to normal grass.

“We have been working on our game plan, on playing with the same intensity.

“We will fly to Liverpool. We are checking the weather and hopefully we can do it today.

“Jonjo Shelvey has a knock to his knee and he will not be available.

“We are waiting on the results of the scans. We don’t know how serious it is. He wants to train and play but we have to check.

“Islam Slimani will continue to work with the physios and fitness coach in the gym.

Dwight Gayle is the other one (there was a worry about)  but he is fine.

“Ritchie is fine and the others are ok.

“Watching the Bournemouth game on video, we had so many chances to finish the game.

“We have to learn from that and learn how to manage games when we are in these positions.

 “It’s not just him (Salah). Firmino, Mané, anyone can be a threat. They have pace, energy. Not just him. We have to try to control everyone with concentration and intensity.

“Liverpool have the pace to play counter attack. They are really good. When they have the ball, the pace, the ability, it is so difficult and we have to take confidence from our win against Man Utd into the game.

“My staff and I won so many things there (at Liverpool). Six years, four trophies. We enjoyed every minute. Their fans, our fans – they are very similar. The connection is there.

“The main thing for me is to try to win. I wish Liverpool all the best, but after this game. We have to do our best.”

  • Leazes.

    No Joe there are no positives and negatives….. in that crazy world finding a penny balances out to losing a sixpence…. its an unnecessary spin, and you are emulating, the nutty world of the psychophant….the world of Ryder and Co who do it to crawl to people they need interviews from.

    We have lost our playmaker and a potential goal scorer…. it isn’t good news so don’t lie and pretend it is!

    • Peaky Magpie


      • Leazes.

        You can bet the order has just gone out from Mark Jensen go do more electrically charged spin.

  • ghostrider

    I notice how Rafa’s excuses about taking Gayle and Ritchie off because of injuries that nobody saw and yet they are fine for Liverpool and Shelvey who was made a scapegoat for our 2 conceded goals when in control is an injury doubt due to him actually being injured on the pitch.
    Rafa is a classic example of a manager making any excuses as long as none point to him being at fault.

    • 1957

      The last sentence is spot on, it’s what most managers do and we’ve had our fair share of them since Sir Bob was removed.

      • ghostrider

        I’d have more respect if he held up his hands and said, ” yep, I tinkered and messed up and I’ll learn my lesson from that.”

    • pedrodelgardo

      Duck egg

    • Wor Lass

      Tell us more, Oh Master.

      • ghostrider

        That’s all you need to know in this lesson, grasshopper.

  • 1957

    Slimani is working with the physio’s and fitness coach in the gym…doesn’t sound like he is anywhere near being ready to play.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      we`ll be lucky to get 5 games out of him, very lucky

      • robbersdog

        You’re right; but things are so tight at the bottom of the Prem, that if he scores just one goal that gets us 3 points, his loan move will have been worthwhile.

      • Leazes.

        He’s an eight goal a season player in the premiership, I think that equates to about one or two goals.