Rafa Benitez ‘We can beat anyone when we have this…”
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.
“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
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)
(Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players at Watford – Read HERE)
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