Saturday finished Watford 2 Newcastle 1.
Rafa’s team went behind in the 2nd minute and after conceding another before the half hour mark, when a penalty was given six minutes before half-time this was looking like it could get very messy.
However, Dubravka made an excellent save and matched that when blocking the second effort from Troy Deeney.
Ayoze Perez gave Newcastle some hope with a goal on 55 minutes but despite some pressure on the home side in the later stages, a third defeat in a row.
The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game.
We scored a goal
This one might be the hardest ‘3 positives’ I will ever do.
The first one I can get away with for sure. We did score a goal! The only real positive to take away from the Watford performance.
In fairness to Perez, it was a great finish! That really is it though, no point in beating around the bush, Newcastle were rubbish!
Shelvey won’t be going to the World Cup
I saw a few people mention that Shelvey played well on Saturday but I really thought that was wide of the mark… much like most of his passing at Vicarage Road. Over the past few months he has improved massively, that’s for sure, but I don’t see what he has done to get near the England squad.
I always said that if Jake Livermore is getting in the squad then I can’t see why Shelvey shouldn’t but even Livermore is chipping in with big moments from West Brom this weekend that we rarely see from Shelvey
He just doesn’t do enough for me – at least not enough to warrant all the fuss that is made about him. There were several times in that first half in which Shelvey was just strolling back into defence, even when he was the one who gave away the ball. It would be good for the us if he didn’t go to the World Cup so he could get a proper summer under his belt and come back to the club fit and improved next season.
They have got another chance to put it right
I would have been doubly disappointed if that was to be the last away game of the season. It would have been a sad way to end what has been from an away fans point of view, not a bad season at all.
It also wouldn’t have been a fair representation of what we have seen from this squad away from home. The likes of Swansea, West Ham, Stoke and Leicester represented some great performances and big moments. I still maintain that Robbie Elliot penalty save [at West Ham] was the turning point in our season.
Granted, it is unlikely that we will get anything from the game against Spurs, but a good performance and a goal would go a long way to giving the away fans a positive end to the season.
Took me all weekend to think of those last two.
Back four was uncharacteristically all over the place
That was a proper Newcastle defensive display. Under Rafa we have become too accustomed to having a solid defence. My first game was January 1999 and I think this season is the first time in my lifetime that we have had a half decent defence.
That being said though, all four of them were all over the place yesterday. Another centre half would still be a priority for me. I know lots of people like him but I think that the jury is still out on Lejeune for the moment. Likewise, Dummett has been great this season but he really has no competition in that spot.
Newcastle only registered one shot on target in the whole game. In all honesty though, they created absolutely nothing. The only other half chance I can remember came from the three subs: Ritchie, Yedlin and Merino, combining to have a decent shot blocked inside the box.
It hasn’t been great in front of goal this season. It is by no means through lack of effort though, I can’t criticise Gayle and Joselu in that department. Yet, it will probably give Rafa his biggest headache this summer.
Let’s be honest for a second…
I don’t want to single out Jacob Murphy at all because I don’t think that the £12 million price tag helped him. At the moment though, he has been a really bad signing. As mentioned, I haven’t been convinced of Lejeune either. Manquillo hasn’t turned up this season. Atsu had his moment in the middle of the campaign and Merino, as much potential as he does have, had about three good games and that’s it We have been 100% relying on last years’ championship to push us through this season.
The point being, irrespective of the reason behind it, the signings that Rafa made last summer have been poor. The performances of Murphy and Manquillo summed it up to be honest. You don’t need to tell me the various reasons why the signings may have been rubbish, I know Rafa has had his hands tied by Ashley – I’m not denying that.
Lets just say, in a magical world where Mike Ashley isn’t Mike Ashley, that Rafa gets some money to spend this summer. What will he do with it? I don’t think it’s a given that he will bring in players that will immediately take us up the table.
Kenedy and Dubravka have been inspirational (but Slimani hasn’t). I am just saying its not a given that Rafa will make brilliant signings this summer, the jury is still out for me in that department. I just hope he gets it right!
Stats from BBC Sport:
Watford 2 Newcastle 1
Watford: Pereyra 2, Gray 28
Newcastle: Perez 55
Possession was Watford 39% Newcastle 61%
Total shots were Watford 11 Newcastle 9
Shots on target were Watford 8 Newcastle 1
Corners were Watford 2 Newcastle 5
Referee: Roger East
Dubravka, Manquillo (Yedlin 67), Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Murphy (Ritchie 53), Shelvey, Diame (Merino 84), Kenedy, Perez, Gayle
Darlow, Hayden, Joselu, Haidara
Crowd; 20,375 (2,000 Newcastle)
(At least Rafa’s half-time ‘chat’ woke NUFC up at Watford – Read HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Watford 2 Newcastle 1 – Read HERE)
(Javi Gracia admits Watford got lucky – Read HERE)
(Rafa Benitez still believes his team can beat anyone if they have this – Read HERE)
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn