Rafa Bentez says that he has found out a lot more about his players during this challenging season, on returning to the Premier League.

The Newcastle boss following the old adage of finding out a lot more about the character of people [players] when you are up against it.

When everything is going swimmingly and the team winning regularly, as was the case last season in the Championship, it is more difficult to judge.

However, this season for both established players and those brought in after promotion, the ups and downs have clearly sorted quite a few issues for Rafa Benitez.

This means he will be well-armed when he approaches this summer’s transfer window, knowing who he can rely on and needs to keep, whilst others haven’t made the grade in terms of ability and/or character.

The shocking run from October to December of only one point from 27 was painful at the time for both Rafa and the Newcastle fans…but in hindsight was probably instrumental in helping the manager to decide what he needed to do in the second-half of the season and who he should place his trust in.

That painful nine match run has been followed by 13 games where the only defeats have been to Liverpool and Man City, this season’s Champions League quarter-finalists.

Rafa says some of his players were maybe affected by the pressure of the Premier League ‘but a group of them were quite strong.’

When you look back, it does appear that the manager reached a point where he decided that these players were the ones he was going to rely on, with others dropping more or less permanently out of sight.

The likes of Shelvey, Diame, Dummett (back from injury), Gayle, Perez all becoming automatic choices as well as Dubravka and Kenedy when they arrived on loan. Whilst others such as Manquillo, Joselu, Mbemba, Atsu, Hayden and Merino have found themselves watching from the sidelines.

Obviously it doesn’t mean all of this latter group are written off….but I have a feeling only Merino has what it takes to bounce back and be competing in Rafa’s thoughts.

Rafa Benitez:

“Obviously we changed some players [last summer and in January], and some of them have improved a lot.

“That is really important when you are thinking about the future, some of them you know a little bit better…how they react when something is right, something is wrong.

“We are learning a lot of things from them.

“Some of them, maybe they were more affected [by the pressure this season]…but a group of them were quite strong.

“Altogether, they reacted really well.

“It is always good when you test your players in difficult situations.”



  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    He`s juggled the players around the best he can & i think no other manager could have kept us in this league.
    Out of a 25 man squad he has around 6 or maybe 7 players that are of the quality needed for the Premiership.
    a quite appalling state of affairs for a club like Newcastle United & it`s all down the the Fat Lad
    will he change in the summer, Not a hope in Hell

    • Fireman Sam

      Everyone knows we need two top quality attacking players to give Rafa the tools to compete, and for this you are looking at £50m +

      With the extra tv money this season Rafa should at least have this sort of budget to play with.

      Anybody who believes that Mike Ashley will allow Rafa to spend that sort of money is a Mug.

      Anybody who believes that Mike Ashley will sell up is a Mug.

      Ashleys aim is premier league survival for the minimum expenditure. And he is pocketing the TV money for himself.

      • Arty Hume

        Indeed mate, however I would like to see if PCP came back into the reckoning with an improved bid of say 300m the shyster wants with no strings attached. This will prove once and for all if he was taking the p!!$ again or for once being genuine, I’d go for the former every time, I’m sure he will/would invent some laughable excuse to turn it down.

        • Come&TakeIt1836

          £300M was what he wanted (reportedly) when there was still a significant risk of relegation. He values the club ~£350M so £300M included a ‘discount’ to account for the risk. The price will likely be higher once survival is attained… maybe £325M is the starting place for a one time cash offer. Staggered payments or other payment strategies with a lower present value may take the total price up to £350M or above.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        We spent £47m in the Summer so only £3m short of £50m not a bad man Ashley.