Rafa Benitez was left to pick over the bones of an overwhelmingly disappointing afternoon at Vicarage Road.

The United boss says though that he is ‘not too worried’ about losing three matches in a row, with safety already having been achieved.

Just as well really, as based on the form of these past three matches, you wouldn’t give Newcastle a hope of getting anything from Spurs and Chelsea, if they had needed it.

Rafa Benitez sees it all as very black and white.

If his team don’t play with the necessary ‘intensity’ then they end up looking ‘exposed’.

However, the manager believes his players can ‘beat anyone’, when they ‘do have intensity and everybody is focused.

The first half was a disaster and only Martin Dubravka stood between Newcastle and a real hammering, this off a team that hadn’t scored for over five hours and only picked up two points from their last 21.

Rafa didn’t rate the penalty decision but without Dubravka’s double save from Deeney’s penalty and follow up, you wonder just how bad the final score could have been if it had been 3-0 at the break.

The Newcastle boss says he was expecting a reaction from the players after the break and it was ‘a pity’ they hadn’t done this from the start.

However, with a two goal lead it was also very evident that Watford decided to just sit back and try to hold that lead, helping Newcastle get back into the game. Watford had seven efforts on target in the first half but only one after the break.

The fact Newcastle only had one in total tells you this was very definitely not fun in the sun.

Little doubt Rafa Benitez knew before this game, and indeed the previous two defeats, just how badly his squad needs strengthening, hopefully this is now even more self-evident to the club hierarchy as well.

Rafa Benitez:

“We have to start with more focus and concentration.

“We were not in the game in the first half.

“We made too many mistakes and the penalty decision was a surprise – it could have been 3-0.

“In the second half the team showed more of what we have seen for the majority of the season – they worked hard and created chances, but we didn’t quite do enough to equalise.”

“I’m not too worried [after losing three in a row], the main thing was to stay up and we did it.

“Now we will see what happens in these next games.

“The players have done a great job through the season and they have not been doing that recently…but we have the two games left and we will see if they can do that again.

“When we don’t have the intensity we look exposed.

“When we do have intensity and everybody is focused, we can beat anyone.

“Too many things we weren’t doing well.

“The reaction of the team [in the second half] is what I was expecting, and it’s a pity because you have to do it in the first half too.

“When it is very hot, it is not easy to put some tempo on the game.

“We tried to move the ball quickly, but credit to them, because they were using the spirit that they have, but it is a pity for us, because I felt we could get at least a point.”

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

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Manquillo (Yedlin 67), Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Murphy (Ritchie 53), Shelvey, Diame (Merino 84), Kenedy, Perez, Gayle

Unused Subs:

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)

(Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players at Watford – Read HERE)

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Sorry Rafa but you don`t have the players who can sustain their form,
    they can up their game but haven`t got the quality to be consistent at this level.
    if you did you wouldn`t be asking the Obese one for new players & on that point prepare yourself for for the knock back.
    we`ve had him for 11 years & nothing changes

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Watford hadn`t won a game in over 2 months until yesterday,
      it was a classic case of 🍌 🍌 🍌

    • Shields Mag

      Spot on Moose, waiting for Ashley to confirm another ‘minimum spend’ this summer if any…

      • porciestreet

        Taxi for Sir Benitez porfavor.

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          That wouldn`t come as a surprise

  • ghostrider

    Rafa relied on giant killing cup type mentality in games.
    Try to score but battle like demons to stop the opposition from doing so with all pumps manned and battle stations.

    The problem is you can only do it for so long before you get picked apart and your valiant men lose their concentration and kill or be killed effort as time wages war on the weary.

    I’m not worried about this season now, regardless of 3 defeats and neither will I worry about losing the last two games if that is to be the case.

    My worry is getting in players and doing exactly the same type of thing we did this season, because I won’t be happy having to stomach the majority of it in that format, regardless of the saying of ” ohhh but it’s effective and got us out of relegation.”

    Yeah right, it did this season after all the excuses.
    Next season there isn’t any excuses not to be outside of the top 10 with Rafa and no excuse to play how we’ve played for most of this season.

    No more ” it’s because Rafa has championship players” or ” Rafa was stopped getting his targets.”
    Because, if he’s still here then he’s obviously getting what he requires.

    • Albert Stubbins

      I agree about the last statement totally. I’ll be amazed if he’s here though. Next five or six weeks are crucial in determining that.

      • ghostrider

        A summer of mixed emotions most likely with us all.

        • mentalman

          a summer on tenter hooks waiting for the announcement that he’s left or even that he has signed a new contract

          • ghostrider

            And that goes for both.
            There’s a whole host of possibilities coming up.

            Rafa signs new contract under Ashley.
            Rafa signs new contract under new owners.
            Rafa walks away from the club under Ashley.
            Rafa walks away from the club as new owners have their own man.

            Then we can add in players being touted and a whole host of other stuff.
            It’s definitely a summer of the potential weird and wonderful world of being a Newcastle United fan.

          • mentalman

            There’s nothing wonderful about being a newcastle fan during a transfer window

          • ghostrider

            Of course there is. Your problem is in being miffed that we don’t go buying other club’s problems in January if we appear to be struggling.
            This is why loans are the way forward in January.
            Little to no risk but potential of a massive lift.

  • ghostrider

    I’m torn between wanting him out while we have the chance to not get stung with a massive contract issue and wanting him to stay in the hope that he starts to play football and give us some entertainment and a semblance of hope for success.

    I don’t think he’ll do it playing the football he does and I don’t see many top players wanting to be part of it if this is his set up.

    • Albert Stubbins

      Top players come if the transfer fee is met and they get what they want in wages. Money always talks in football. If fatso backs him top players will come. It’ll never happen though.

      • FatParosite

        Just block ghostrider you’ll thank me for it.

        • Leazes.

          I have, I can’t see him at all…. very ghost like. You just get a feeling something is there.

      • ghostrider

        I agree top players will come but it’s the reasons for it, is what worries me.
        It’s easy to meet a transfer fee and it’s easy to offer wages to match it.
        The issue is in how big the transfer fee is and why the player chooses us over other clubs.

        You get all kinds of excuses made by top players.
        Wijnaldum came with some drivel about our club being everything and the kitchen sink.
        Cabaye. Sissoko. and ….the list is endless of the talk the talkers who walked the walk, then decided to run away to any club that would better their bank balance in most cases but mostly just using this club as a stepping stone.

        It takes a special kind of top quality player to want to stay at Newcastle and there has to be one other ingredient for them other than the fantastic fans we have.
        The manager is generally the deal clincher but it’s generally a manager that is football enticing….and by that I mean playing football in a way that those top players know will excite the crowd and excite them.

        A recipe for potential of some success or a massive flirt with it.
        The Keegan times and Ginola type who become paid up members of the Newcastle United fan club.
        Rather that your Luque’s who become paid up and see your later players, because they saw pound signs that guaranteed them a fat bank balance with little mind to what the input or outcome would be over a period of their contract.

        I want to see players willing to walk barefoot over broken glass and hot embers after having the soles of their feet scrubbed with rough sandpaper and doused in vinegar, just to get the chance to try and be a hero and a legend for Newcastle United, with a mentality of, let’s just sign the contract and let me get to work.

        I just hope that…if it’s Rafa, then I pray that he sets us up to take the game to teams next season, with players bought and on-board who not only buy into it, but are capable of being a massive part of it.

        • Albert Stubbins

          I agree that the player will want to play in a team that plays attractive football but unless your the very elite and were not talking that level here, then money will always be the primary motivation. It is the same in all walks of life. Parameters of scale are different that’s all. If you get a team of good footballers the style tends to look after itself in terms of how attractive the football will be. Sam Allardyce is the exception to the rule here. Ask the majority of Liverpool fans if they played attractive football and they will tell you it was a combination of pragmatic and attractive. They had the players to adapt to most occasions. We don’t. We are simply a hard working team where everyone has to be at it 100% otherwise we generally get beat. If we got the additional quality we could then, like the old Liverpool have a more acceptable or attractive style. Quality costs money and I am reluctant to accept that he will be given sufficient resources to be able to do the job he has proved elsewhere that he can do.

          • ghostrider

            I understand about needing money to compete and I know that money is the massive motivation, which can attract better quality. It’s a fair comment.
            The issue though, isn’t about that, it’s about being careful not to try to emulate the bigger moneybags clubs in order to entice players, unless you’re confident that you can literally play swap shop for closer transfer values with other players.

            Like I mentioned earlier about Sunderland and Ellis Short handing out money hand over fist but with little contingency in terms of similar sale returns.
            It comes back to bite you hard because the focus can become an addiction to catching those that realistically cannot be caught, unless allowed from time to time.

            Like Leicester were allowed to.
            It keeps all the also-ran teams on a feeding frenzy to emulate the little club and don’t realise it was orchestrated.

            But anyway.

        • Rich Lawson

          ”Broken glass,hot embers,soles of their feet with sandpaper and vinegar”. Hasn’t Pedro tried that with the U23’s already ?

          • ghostrider

            Yea but he put all that in their boots and expected instant match success. lol

    • Toon Arnie

      ghostRyder ( ?) – You’re either a bit confused with the stream or this was a not so clever ,or subtle, dig at Rafa – I’m going with the former but that’s just my opinion. Nobody else seems that interested and I didn’t want you left out so thought it best to reply. Could you clarify ?

      • ghostrider

        It’s a mixed emotion as regards Rafa.
        Call it a dig and a potential acceptance of him.
        It’s my conundrum.

  • Paul Patterson

    Players mentally on the beach. Happens at the end of every season to some clubs. Look at Leicester . .

  • Leazes.

    They’ve lacked any motivation for three games now, it is a problem when the club itself has no other goal than survival, Rafa has been making the right noises about ambition and goals for the club recently in achieving a European place and that is right….

    ….. but where were the local press been in holding the club’s hierarchy to account for the last eleven years….. I’ve said all along that if you don’t have a goal then you will underperform as a club because the malaise seeps right through to the bones of the club sending it on that downward spiral.

    Ashley and Charnley run the club in isolation from its competitors without a thought of anything except the accounts, this is the problem the club faces….its Chairman and its owner and survival has happened despite their misguided and strange behavior towards secluded financial management.

    Positioning the club at fifteenth when they could have been forwarded a loan by Ashley (he had a half billion float in his MASH account) in lieu of the forty million they received in January as a ‘tranche’ of the Sky money would have set the club up for a worthwhile season, but instead they allowed it to struggle.

    Two years ago the Chronicle front page read ‘Charnley has two things to do: Firstly secure the signing of Benitez and then in the name of God…GO!’….

    …..the editor knows the problem at the club…. its bald, its ugly, its incompetent and it hides from the light! Why would Ashley persevere with him? Is it because Ashley has been holding a gun to the head of the club for years in the hope that the threat of damage will flush out a hero to save us? Is that the reason for every nasty spiteful action he planned over the years.

    Its going to be a long summer with page filling speculation

    • Kneebotherm8

      … its bald, its ugly, its incompetent and it hides from the light………………sounds a bit like Gollum…….

      • Leazes.

        that was the intention, he’s got something precious that belongs to us.

        • Kneebotherm8

          Fair comment…..

        • FatParosite

          & there’s me thinking you’re talking about Lee Ryder.

          • Leazes.

            He an Orc

      • Rich Lawson

        Waiting for the ”ring” jokes now folks !

        • Kneebotherm8

          Mike is “Lard of the rings”……….sorry had to start somewhere…..

    • Paul Patterson

      Very true. It would be nice if the club (privately) set the goal of Europa League qualification AND a cup win. Funnily enough if you do the latter you get the former anyway. We all know that Rafa wants this, so the owner needs to come forward with substantial funds (we all know they’re there) and give us the best chance of this happening- circa £75m should go somewhere near.

      • Leazes.

        That’s why Ashley set a goal of 8th. and financed the club to 10th position…. except this season its different we were financed to 15th with a better manager…. the result is the same…. limbo-land.

    • Albert Stubbins

      On the beach leazes, same with Leicester and Everton. Mid table obscurity with nowt to play for. I’d have gladly accepted this at the start of the season. It’s virtually impossible it would appear to motivate players when there’s nothing to gain or lose. Professional pride doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Sad but true.

  • nufcslf

    Safety or not, West Brom and Watford were a chance to challenge for 8th and teams we should have beat on the recent form of all three teams. West Brom have obviously picked it up, but it was a home match and a chance to have relegated them. As for Watford and their rotten run of results and that was the first half performance you come up with. Pathetic and the next two matches against proper sides doesn’t fill anybody with much confidence really.