Reflecting on the trip to Spain, Rafa Benitez will have been happy to see pretty much every box ticked on his checklist.

The four day break ending up being perfectly timed to avoid some depressing snow, ice and cold winds on Tyneside.

The Newcastle Manager clearly happy with the facilities and the pitch on which they played Royal Antwerp.

Whilst in the actual game there were maybe only two things that Rafa Benitez would have changed.

The Newcastle boss pointing out that things got a little feisty towards the end of the 135 minutes (3 x 45 minute periods), with a risk of injury as ‘There were some bad tackles at the end’.

Jamaal Lascelles particularly annoyed at one poor challenge.

However, Rafa believes he has no new injuries after the trip so that represents a big tick on his list.

As for the friendly game overall, the Manager was pleased to see 22 players get a run out, with the extended game meaning some got 90 minutes and others 45. The United boss also thinking that the training sessions went well and an added bonus of some team bonding with the squad away together.

Maybe like the Premier League so far, it was the finishing that was the biggest disappointment. United created plenty of chances in this one and a half games worth of football but only had the one success, an excellent lob by Matt Ritchie towards the end of the first third.

To sum things up, a poor Dwight Gayle spot-kick was easily saved in the final stages of the third third, meaning the game finished 1-1.

However, the number nine wasn’t alone, as plenty other chances went begging.

Assuming we stay up, Rafa must be making goalscoring a priority in various positions, not just for strikers, on only eight occasions in 30 Premier League matches have Newcastle scored more than one goal.

Rafa Benitez:

“I think that it (trip to Spain and friendly game) was fine.

“The idea was to get minutes under their belts (against Royal Antwerp) and create some chances.

“It was positive for us, they didn’t create too much and we got no injuries.

“Some of them needed to play 90 minutes – some played 45 but a lot of them got 90 minutes.

“So it is good and we will see if it can help before the end of this season.

“In terms of the training sessions they were fine and in terms of relationships between the players, spending time together was also positive.

“When you play these kind of games you can’t expect everybody to be running at full pace, (but) they were competing and doing well.

“There were some bad tackles at the end which I didn’t like too much – because it’s always a risk.”

  • TheNutJob

    how many times have we heard ” a striker must be a priority”
    we buy anything but a striker, wingers, defenders, midfielders all over the shop
    not one good striker & the son of Satan won`t be buying one anytime soon either

    • TheNutJob

      wor kid watched some of the match yesterday, he said Jezza & leazes would have been better up front than the the Hoss & Dwight

      • Jezza

        Ha ha I wasn’t a bad goal scorer in my day to be truthfull though I wasn’t an out and out striker. I was more of an attacking midfielder who would come late into the box and get on the end of things, a bit like Terry McDermott.

        • TheNutJob

          My dad`s hero Terry Mac

        • Cockneytrev

          Them two are more like” Terry and June”

  • Wor Monga

    I’m not surprised that Rafa wasn’t too happy about the tackles going in seeing as the game was being played by us in such an open, laid back, easy going (pre-season) manner from us it could have been a regular training run out…without any real pressure or urgency to turn the domination into a result…

    …however penalties win matches in the PL… it’s a big target to aim at yet that’s now 2 out of 2 attempts our strikers have totally wasted…that needs sorting out, double quick!!!

  • mactoon

    It was a bit tasty at times with their No. 9 kicking out at Haidara and having a running battle with him, also tempers flared at the end of the game. No need for it really and the managers should have removed some of the players to defuse situations.

    Special mention for Victor Fernandez, I was very impressed with him. Great feet and full of confidence wanting the ball all the time.

    With regards to a striker I’ve been saying this for years now but we still haven’t addressed it, pathetic for a Premiership club to neglect this for as long as we have. The last gasp gamble of Slimani just underlines what a joke our transfer decisions have been. And it won’t get any better in the summer.