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Match Reports

‘No point to new season – Rafa Benitez should walk now to pressure Mike Ashley’

7 months ago
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First match report of the season, so I will try my best to stick just to the football side of things.

It wasn’t exactly the 22-0 scoreline I was expecting (joking) but it was an ok enough performance from Newcastle, considering it was our first game of pre-season. These games are always good as they give the new players a chance to bed in to the system and get to know more about their team-mates… luckily for Newcastle United we don’t really have any new players so we are already one step ahead.

If there is one thing I have liked in recent years, it is that the pre-season choices have been spot on. Ireland is always a great one for me personally to take a trip with my Dad to visit friends and family, while the fact that my plane over from Newcastle was mostly fans shows how easy it was for the majority of us. Even the likes of Wolfsburg and Gelsenkirchen have been great choices in recent years. I can’t make it to Portugal but I expect it to be similar.

The Match

Newcastle looked alright in the first 15 minutes of what was a fast paced friendly match. No doubt that St Pats were up for the game as this would be a big game for a lot of the League of Ireland players to test themselves against ‘established’ Premier League players.

Joselu had a few half chances in the first 30 minutes but didn’t really look up to scratch. It was difficult to see from such a low position in the stand at the opposite end of the field but he didn’t seem to be getting around the pitch that quick neither. No disrespect but it certainly didn’t look like he had been working with a personal trainer all summer! I think I can get away with that little dig as I am a staunch defender of the guy.

Matt Ritchie looked creative and proactive on the right hand side, while Rolando Aarons treated us to his usual lively first 15 minutes followed by 30 minutes of doing nothing and looking suspect defensively.

Newcastle took the lead through Sean Longstaff who looked neat and tidy in the middle of the park. By no means a world beater but perhaps the shoddy transfer business may force Rafa into giving a few young players a chance. When it comes to young players it is important to stay away from social media, and especially the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder, who lauds every player who gets a game and talks about the high hopes they have of becoming a first team player.

The truth is that Longstaff is 20 years old (turns 21 in October), which isn’t exactly young anymore when it comes to trying to establish yourself as a first team player in the Premier League. In his two loan spells he did ok at Kilmarnock in the SPL, and had a really good season last year at Blackpool in League 1, where I think he chipped in with eight goals. It is unlikely he will get a chance this year unless Newcastle get lucky with cup draws, or there is an injury crisis. However, if he does get a chance then given the experience he already has in senior football, there is always the possibility that a few good performances can lead to something more.

Other youngsters in the first half included Fernandez at right back, who really struggled, and Yarney beside him at centre half who looked nervous.

It was almost a completely different team in the second half (only Yarney and Longstaff played both), with the likes of Shelvey, Yedlin, Clark, Atsu and Gayle coming on. Other youngsters included Armstrong and Roberts.

As you would expect, with more senior players on, the likes of Shelvey and Kenedy meant Newcastle looked for more comfortable and eventually ran out 2-0 winners.

I admit to missing the second goal as I left 10 minutes early to try and make the most out of what was a nice warm night in Dublin.

(To read Jonathan’s match ratings go here)

Rafa

I love Rafa Benitez, he is probably the best qualified coach to ever manage Newcastle, and I would certainly place him up there near to Joe Harvey and Sir Bobby in terms of ranking previous Newcastle managers. I don’t know about other people’s opinion, but none of the aforementioned get anywhere close to Kevin Keegan.

I just don’t buy the notion that Rafa is staying because he loves Newcastle. I have no doubt that he loves the fans, the city etc. but he isn’t staying because of that. I think it is far more to do with the money that he is on and there simply isn’t anywhere else available that is as close to home.

I have said it before, and I will keep saying it… I think it would be far more beneficial for Newcastle United in the long-term if Rafa packed it in now. Allowing his contract to take a natural run down would not bring with it as much attention, or hostility for the owner, as it would him sticking two fingers up to Ashley now.

I don’t see any point in this coming season, with no money to spend, having a manager you know won’t be here next summer, it all just seems rather pointless if I am honest.

It doesn’t matter who the manager is, the guy in charge could be an Alex Ferguson/Brian Clough hybrid, and the club still wouldn’t go anywhere because Mike Ashley is in charge.

The fans

It was a really nice atmosphere at the ground, not too much singing, but more just fans sitting back, relaxing in the nice weather and enjoying the game with pals. A lot of Irish contingent in the Newcastle end too.

Last bit

The Chronicle tried their best by stating that there was ‘plenty of plus points’ to take away from the game… although if anyone can give me more than three I’ll give them a sticker!

If you are still talking about Rafa signing a new contract, or getting excited about signing Rondon (and selling Mitro, which makes no sense at all) then you are living in cloud cuckoo land.

Rafa keeps saying “don’t take it out on the players, the fans are intelligent, they know what the crack is.” Well, I am sorry Rafa but who do we take it out on?

This lies the problem with Rafa Benitez remaining manager this season, it keeps us fans silent for another season… apathetic even. It is EXACTLY what Mike Ashley wants.

There isn’t anything positive about Newcastle United, or as I now like to call them, Sports Direct United.

St Patrick’s Athletic 0 Newcastle United 2 – Tuesday 17 July 7.45pm

Newcastle United First Half:

Karl Darlow, Josef Yarney, Florian Lejeune, Javier Manquillo, Rolando Aarons, Matt Ritchie, Mohamed Diamé, Sean Longstaff, Víctor Fernández, Ayoze Pérez, Joselu

Newcastle United Second Half:

Matz Sels, DeAndre Yedlin, Josef Yarney, Ciaran Clark, Kenedy, Jonjo Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Callum Roberts, Christian Atsu, Adam Armstrong, Dwight Gayle

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn
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