Garth Crooks says he was ‘laughed out of court’ when he stated back in October that Rafa Benitez was capable of winning the Premier League at Newcastle United, with the ‘right resources’.

At that time, Newcastle had just beaten Crystal Palace at St James Park, a result that put them sixth in the table.

It was an excellent start to the season, as Rafa Benitez had been failed badly by Mike Ashley in the transfer market.

Rafa producing a £40m transfer profit in summer 2016, no buys allowed by Ashley in both January 2017 and January 2018, then only a minimal spend in summer 2017 – as the likes of Huddersfield and Brighton spent several times what NUFC had, in terms of net spending.

In October, Garth Crooks declared ‘I think the Newcastle fans think that Rafa Benitez deserves the resources to take them where the fans want to be’.

Nothing has changed and Crooks is right on both counts, Rafa deserves proper backing for sure, and the Newcastle fans know the club could be competing towards the top IF this manager was given a decent level of money to build a squad over a period of time.

Coming back to the present and after watching Newcastle beat Arsenal, Garth Crooks commented ‘What a pity the Magpies are not in the hands of someone who really appreciates what this club, their supporters and their manager have to offer.’

He thought ‘the entire Newcastle team’ were ‘outstanding’ and his man of the match was Mohamed Diame, who Crooks revealed ran 11.5km, more than any other team-mate on Sunday. The BBC Sport pundit picking the former Senegal international in his Premier League team of the week.

Costing only £5m, Rafa has now got to the bottom of Diame in terms of finding out how to get these type of performances out of a player who had looked really poor to average for 18 months.

To show what Rafa Benitez is up against, Arsenal had two strikers on display yesterday who each cost roughly the same as Newcastle’s entire 11 who started the game.

Nobody is expecting the Newcastle boss to suddenly be able to spend £110m+ on a couple of strikers but there is a lot of leeway in between that and what Mike Ashley has allowed so far.

You can only do so much with bargain buys and loan signings, Rafa Benitez needs to be reassured ASAP by the Newcastle owner, that he is either going to sell up, or give his manager the backing and respect he deserves.

Garth Crooks speaking to BBC Sport:

“I was laughed out of court when I suggested Rafael Benitez has the ability to bring titles to St James’ Park.

“Well, he’s not won the Premier League with this group of players – but how he’s amassed 41 points with games to spare.

“Mo Diame is among the many players Benitez has rejuvenated at Newcastle.

“Not since his days at West Ham have I seen the Senegal international look so fit and in such good form.

“Against Arsenal, Diame was outstanding, as were the entire Newcastle team.

“What a pity the Magpies are not in the hands of someone who really appreciates what this club, their supporters and their manager have to offer.

“Did you know? Diame covered more distance than any other Newcastle player against Arsenal (11.5km).”

Garth Crooks Team of the week:

Ben Foster (West Brom)

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Kevin Long (Burnley)

Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

Willian (Chelsea)

Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

Mohamed Diame (Newcastle)

Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

The Mag – 21 October 2017:

Garth Crooks talking on the BBC:

“I think the Newcastle fans think that Rafa Benitez deserves the resources to take them where the fans want to be.

“Which could be a top six side.

“I mean it is a huge club and Rafa Benitez has the pedigree to do something quite special.

“So I think there is no doubt for me, he is a top class manager and they (Newcastle) are lucky to have him.

“I think he is capable….I mean with Keegan they didn’t win anything with Newcastle – but he flirted with the title.

“Rafa can win it (Premier League) with the right resources there, I think that highly of him.

“Can win the title (at Newcastle) with the right resources.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 2 Arsenal 1

Goals:

Newcastle: Perez 29, Ritchie 68

Arsenal: Lacazette 14

Possession was Arsenal 72% Newcastle 28%

Total shots were  Arsenal 15 Newcastle 8

Shots on target were Arsenal 3 Newcastle 4

Corners were  Arsenal 5 Newcastle 2

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie (Murphy 86), Shelvey, Kenedy, Perez (Joselu 79), Gayle (Slimani 63))

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Manquillo, Clark, Hayden

Crowd: 52,210 (2,700 Arsenal approx)

(Alan Shearer revels in Newcastle win and has Piers Morgan and other Arsenal fans biting – Read HERE)

(United fan/writer instant reaction to the 2-1 victory – Read it HERE)

(Match ratings of all NUFC players after beating Arsenal – Read HERE)

(Arsene Wenger says Newcastle didn’t even deserve a point…Read HERE)

(Rafa Benitez reaction after final whistle – Read HERE)



  • TheNutJob

    Jabba, jabba, jabba, oot,oot,oot

    🐖 🐖 🐖

  • Rich Lawson

    Good man,don’t always agree with you on Football Focus,but your early season assessment looks spot on now.Still waiting for an Ashley comment on our recent run ?

    • Jezza

      I’ve always considered Garth Crooks to be one of the better pundits. You might not always agree with him but he is an intelligent articulate bloke and in a different class altogether to the likes of Merson and all the other p!ssed up knackas on Sky Sports.

      • Mrkgw

        Agreed. Excellent player in his day too.

        • Jezza

          Yes, I was lucky enough to see him play a few times when he was at his peak with Spurs. Great player.

          • Mrkgw

            Yes, Spurs had some side back then. Forgive me for this heinous admission but for a short time as a young lad in the 80’s, I actually followed them. Probably started because I liked the replica kit! My Dad took me to a few games around 82 through to 84/5ish. Bizarre I know but it’s true. And then, sense hit me and I started going to Newcastle games for real. That said, through work I’m now exiled to the SE corner and many of my mates down here are Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal etc. But, I could never ever follow them now. Newcastle to the core for me and I’d sooner quit football if our club was disolved.
            But, back to the earlier point which is that the side they had then, Hoddle, Ardiles, Perryman, Mabbutt, Falco, Crooks, Chedozie, Archibald etc, etc. As pro’s they were brilliant. Great footballers.

          • Jezza

            I can get away with all of that. I’ve always been NUFC through and through but back in the late 70’s/early 80’s Glenn Hoddle was my favourite player, still is one of my all time favourites for that matter. You couldn’t help but admire the Spurs team of that period and the flowing, passing attacking football they played under the great Keith Burkinshaw, surely the best manager England never had. That Spurs team came the closest of any English side to emulating the total football of that famous 1974 Dutch World Cup team. Those players you mentioned were all very good and another one I really admired from that Spurs team was the winger Tony Galvin.

          • Mrkgw

            Yes, agreed – Galvin, Miller, I even remember Danny Thomas whose career was cut short through injury. Good times to watch football, no doubt and I share the fact that Hoddle also was my favourite at the time. His passing was sublime. Here’s the contentious bit though. He isn’t quite as good admittedly but our very own Shelvey is as close to that style of passing as I’ve seen since.

  • Peter

    Garth is spot on here…one of the few London-based pundits who understands…