Even though we have the distraction of Forest in the League Cup as well, this week will no doubt be dominated by the subject of Rafa Benitez and tactics/formation.

The Newcastle boss seeing his game plan against Chelsea ridiculed by some of the usual suspects after playing a very defensive formation.

In advance of Saturday’s trip to Manchester City that discussion will undoubtedly flare up and intensify once again.

It is very difficult to see the Newcastle manager veering away from what he did on Sunday and of course last season when the Magpies visited the Etihad.

Some Newcastle supporters didn’t agree with Rafa’s tactics either and in many cases have been shouted down by other fans for a supposed lack of loyalty to the manager’s cause.

However, there is a massive difference between ridiculing what Rafa Benitez did against Chelsea, as compared to simply saying that you would rather Newcastle had shown more ambition against Sarri’s team.

Amazingly, you can still think Rafa Benitez is by far the best manager Newcastle could have at this present time BUT also think he should have done things differently.

Some Newcastle fans then say ‘so you think you know better than Rafa’ but that isn’t the point, surely the basics of being a football fan is the whole discussion around team selection, tactics and so on.

An opinion is exactly that, not right or wrong, just an opinion.

Personally, I would 100% have preferred a different approach for that Chelsea match, though I totally understand why he did it.

It almost helped pull off a great result as well, that final 15 minutes seeing an excellent Joselu goal outdone by a dubious penalty and a cruel own goal.

However, as a fan, you can have different priorities to the manager.

Rafa Benitez is, quite rightly, 100% focused on getting the best result possible.

I went along to watch a decent match with the hope Newcastle would get something.

The way I see it, the way Rafa set things up on Sunday gave us maybe a 35% chance of getting a draw, or better.

If the manager had gone with a more attacking formation/tactics, I think that chance of a point or better might have dropped to 20% or 25%.

I want to see us at least having a go, when I turn up at St James Park I of course get a lot of satisfaction if we get result, but I go to watch a game of football as well. Seeing our better players express themselves.

I also think that there is a big negative in Rafa’s approach, as in playing so defensively meant that there was nothing for the fans to get behind. That spark you can get whereby the team and supporters feed off each other and can often help to produce a better result than expected.

We had none of that until going behind and then that late charge to try and get an equaliser.

On Saturday I think Man City away is a big one-off, they are by far the best team and very difficult to see Rafa Benitez able to do much more than sit back.

At home though I think it is a different matter and if Rafa had played say Muto in support of Rondon we could have had some joy.

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  • Paul Patterson

    Last season Rafa’s job was to keep Newcastle in the division. He did it, mostly by nicking points where he felt we could but against the big teams it was all about keeping the score down. Losing 4-0 against three or four teams does nobody any good.
    If we attack teams like Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City we will get murdered and then where will we be?
    The side this season is decent when everyone is fit, lose two or three (or more) players and we’re up [email protected] creek.
    The approach against Chelsea (and I assume Man City) was the right one. Until we get an owner who is willing to invest more money, we’re just going to have to live with it.
    We also just have to hope there are three (or more) worse teams than us come May 2018.

    • Tony English

      Nail on head. Its a glaring omission from the above article that goal difference is not mentioned. It’s not just about playing for a draw and maybe nicking a win on the day, it’s about the big picture.

      Last season we finished with a goal-diff of minus 8, the four teams within 3 points of us (one result) finished with -10, -16, and two teams on -20. So similar results, but shipping a hell of a lot more goals.

      It’s key in our position to go into some games realistically playing with a strong defensive shape, half expecting to lose but hoping not to ship six or seven goals, a sad reality, but that’s where we are.

      Last season 17th placed Southampton finished only 3 points above Swansea and Stoke, but they had a goal difference of -19, those two relegated sided…..minus 28 and minus 33…

      Shoot me down, but I’d take losses to Chelsea and Man City by a single goal at the moment.

      • Paul Patterson

        Agreed. Stay in the game as long as possible. We were 15 minutes (and 9 minutes) away from a point on Sunday. I can’t see us being so lucky this weekend.

        • Tony English

          Keep it tight at the back….and the middle….and the sides…and the front…

    • Ron

      Last year our goal difference was tremendous, and that’s why.

  • Mrkgw

    ‘Some Newcastle fans then say ‘so you think you know better than Rafa’ but that isn’t the point, surely the basics of being a football fan is the whole discussion around team selection, tactics and so on.

    An opinion is exactly that, not right or wrong, just an opinion.’

    Very well summarised and the point about getting the crowd going is crucial as home support is always a key advantage. No good if 50 or so thousand sit silently.

    In terms of our awful run of games I like Rafa and don’t want his stay brought to a juddering halt by Ashley. But, football is a results game and I just hope that the owner recognises what a tough start we have been dealt. Saving grace is that it would cost to change things around – outlay being an aspect we all know Ashley avoids. Heres hoping for a good win tonight to give everyone a welcome lift.

    • RAFmag

      Keegan used to brief the team to get an early shot in or make sure you win 50/50s to get the crowd into the game. He knew how important the energy from the crowd was in success at home. I think it is even more important when the quality of the team is not as good as the opposition.

  • FatParosite

    The thing about this is…. Would we accept this approach from Pardew or Carver or even Allerdyce? The answer would be no because with those managers it was the default position and they had zero ability to change or react and ultimately there was nothing in their locker to suggest they had any sort of managerial nous. They were charlatans. Budget managers for a budget club owner. Our current manager knows how to prepare a team on it’s merits. Even when those merits are few and far between. Rafa has nous. It is not pretty to watch and as fans we have to accept that this master craftsman only has a butter knife to carve the Venus de Milo.

    • Sickandtired

      True, but that said, even when winning the Championship our football was hardly memorable or exciting most of the time.
      Rafa has his ‘style’ and regardless of the quality of players at his disposal, he is not going to change that. I do believe (in my opinion) that too often it is overly negative and defensive by design.
      But of course in the world of pundits you can never win. KK got slaughtered for open attacking football the likes of which, 20 years later, everyone now is slavvering over when City etc play that way. “never win nothing playing like that” was the call week in and out.
      In our case now, a happy medium would be welcome.

      • FatParosite

        I agree for the most part. Rafa is protecting his reputation. However as pragmatic as it might seem without Rafa in the dug out last season we would have sunk.

        The happy medium you talk about keeps us afloat for another year but we will likely lose our life-vest. We are not a footballing side equipped for attractive football and it is not within the structure of MASH holdings to even bother to make one. Ashley has even told us he won’t make us competitive. So why all the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

        Personally I would take a drop through 2 divisions to rid us of Ashley to save what little soul NUFC has left. Others seem happy with boing-boing. For many years even some were even happy with no plan-A Pardew. Pundits and fans will have to make their minds up about what NUFC is. Many fans complaining about the paintwork when the car has no wheels.

      • Ram Kishore

        We didnt have many memorable moments in the championship but I’d say we did score loads of goals and we did create too many chances for the strikers with too many counters if I am right.. the players back then were a bit above quality and gelled as an excellent team.

        • FatParosite

          I’m not sure that is true otherwise we would have won the Championship in March and not on the last day. I agree with Sickandtired with that one.

        • Sickandtired

          Won by one point and only 3 wins clear of 3rd place. Gayle was the only striker to break double figures – Ritchie was 2nd highest!.
          However, my point being that even in doing so, the football was generally far from memorable or entertaining.

          • Ram Kishore

            Haha maybe ig.. but not all teams do play that sorta memorable football .. last season’s manchester united match was memorable imo

          • Sickandtired

            I presume you don’t mean the 4-1 scoreline away from home.

          • Ram Kishore


  • RAFmag

    All out attack or all out lying deep defence with very little press? They are not the only options. We could press the opposition higher up the field, but not commit too many runners beyond the ball and leave ourselves too open.

    • NUFCDan

      When playing against Pedro and Hazard two of the fastest and trickiest players in world football? Give them space to run into and they’d tear us apart.

      • RAFmag

        I am worried that we are too predictable and don’t cause the opposition enough problems. Without the ball, our defensive shape is as good as it could be.
        Is it the quality of player we have causing us to lose the ball immediately when won back or are the team worried too much about breaking the defensive shape?

    • Will In Despair!

      Mmm… maybe a line was crossed a while back, when Rafa considered that the team can defend much better as a unit, than the few players we have capable of going forward 😣

  • mactoon

    Last season was a firefight at the bottom of the league and the way we went in against Man City was to keep down the goal difference against a team who were scoring 5, 6 and 7 goals. We lost 0-1 and 3-1 and we ended up with a better goal difference than the 10 teams below us which could have been invaluable.

    I can see us doing the same against City and possibly Liverpool this season and agree to a point, but the 3rd game of the season against Chelsea seems a little early to adopt such a cautious approach!. I would like us to have a go at the other teams, having beaten Arsenal, Chelsea and Man U at home last term I don’t see anything to cause us to be so negative against these teams.

  • Leazes.

    This is a ‘Season Strategy’ for survival not a game strategy for a point…. get used to it! As its Rafa’s last season with us I think he maybe doesn’t want to completely ruin his reputation for competence by achieving relegation with this suicide club…

    ….and while I’m on…yes he’ll probably try to exit this cup game like every manager has under Ashley because ……he has to….so did they…. so if you are attending this meaningless match then you’ve wasted your time and money you eejit.

    • Paul Patterson

      Rafa will be trying to get us through by the least effort possible and with as few first teamers as possible. Only if we get through a few rounds will the first team play.
      It’s important that whoever takes to the field gets support. It would be unfair on the young lads that will obviously play tonight.

      • Kenny

        I’ve got 3-1 so I’ll be supporting them ok

    • Wezza

      Spot on. Even if we stay up… what next? Rinse and repeat with a yes man. Things will never change with that cancer as our owner.

      • Kenny

        We’re in the 💩 until the Fat Rat goes

    • Will In Despair!

      I’m thinking could this be part of his end game fun?

      As it certainly looks bleak for next season already, starved him of any funds, this 0dious goit is after ruining everything Newcastle United, I bet including a nice big chunk of Rafa’s reputation as is feasibly possible.

      I really fear for us next season, onwards 😪

  • Peaky

    I’m getting to the point now where it wouldn’t surprise me one little iota that Fatso pulls the ultimate trigger and gets Penfold to sack Rafa regardless of the cost….

    • Kenny

      6 million reasons why he won’t

  • Phil Yare

    i disagree with saying we’d have less possession if we’d had a more attacking team (or just something inbetween defensive and attack to be honest)

    the reason we had no possession is that there was no one to give the ball too……either punt it into 95% of uncharted territory or by fluke or immense accuracy find rondon (joselu later) in the other 5%

    they didn’t want hazard to get in behind so i think thats the reason we sat so far back. and hes never going to go with 2 forwards as its just not his way, even if he had shearer and ferdinand

  • Kenny

    Rafas playing the long game, he was out for a point against Chelsea & maybe mug them on the break,
    we didn’t get the rub of the green if we had we would have drawn the game. As below in leazes post,
    it’s a season strategy

  • Hughie_Gallacher

    There is simply no point in wishing Rafa would adopt attacking tactics, especially against manifestly superior teams. He has always erred on the side of caution whatever club he has been at, and is hardly likely to change being manager of what he knows is a championship quality squad.
    If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. As for Sky TV and their pundits, if you don’t like it, don’t televise it.

    • Kenny

      i switch on the telly 1 minute before k/o and off it goes on the final whistle

  • Scott Robinson

    Hmmm. Goal difference is only relevant if we are playing for 4th bottom. Seeing the league is poor from last season’s Burnley downwards and we finished 10th then a 5-0 thumping off citeh is irrelevant as long as we pick up the odd point against the top teams especially at home, like Brighton and Wolves have done thus far. We wouldn’t have beaten Man U by parking the bus and they are no great shakes. Chelsea are poor at the back and still miles away from being as good as citeh.
    Far better to treat those home games like the cup finals we will never compete for, even Hereford beat a big team.

    Sick of hearing about stats. We scored a goal and Chelsea scored 2 that’s what it is about, ‘goals’ win matches not possession.

    There was a good article about Ashley turning NUFC into Sport’s Direct in the Metro yesterday, of all places. One of the more accurate pieces of journalism, maybe Monkseaton read it????

    • Kenny

      we always play for 4th bottom, anything else is a bonus & we were without
      Kenedy, Lascelles & Shelvey or we may have seen a better game

    • Paul Patterson

      If you start getting beat 3-4-5-0 on a regular basis against top teams, I can assure you confidence will drop and we won’t get wins against other teams either . .

      If you’re going to get beat, make it a narrow one.

    • Superdooperhooper

      What do you mean ‘if we’re playing for fourth bottom ‘ ? We are !

      • Kneebotherm8

        Have been for the last 11 years….

  • kingfisher

    If The Great Corpulent One sacked Rafa,would it affect home attendances or would the 50,000 still go regardless?

    • Kenny


      • kingfisher

        I stand corrected Kenny 😂

  • Lewis SG

    Do you know how he won the Champions League with Liverpool? It’s through pragmatism and tactics.

    You can disagree all day but he is the professional with the trophies and track record.

    • Cuh

      Not with these tactics my friend, no.

      • Lewis SG

        Show us your trophy then.

  • NUFCDan

    Let face it, we are terrible and the team is (at best) no better than last season while other have improved, and 2 of the 3 promoted teams look really strong. Rafa worked miracles last season and we were also fortunate that there were team worse than us in the league and we hit form at the right time. Playing to keep the moral sapping defeats to a minimum against the top 6 while also keeping the goal difference down could be what keeps us up this year.

  • Cuh

    “If you want to really give an unbiased opinion of that game, just ask yourself this:

    How would you have reacted if John Carver used those same tactics?”

    Criticizing your clubs manager is necessary. Only requirement is that it’s not over-the-top criticosm. My comment is for all those who want to blindly follow Rafa.

    • Lewis SG

      John Carver has won nothing, he has no credibility, and his managerial record is abysmal.

      Sure you can criticise Rafa, at the end of the day winners are self-critical perfectionist and you as a football outsider has even less credibility than John Carver.

      • Kneebotherm8

        A lot worse than abysmal…..

  • Billmag

    I will ask you this Dean Premiership or Championship you obviously like many fans would love to see us having a go, my reply would be having a go we will probably end up in the Championship.

  • Will In Despair!

    My post, with a few little edits, from the other day: Rafa is trying his utmost to avoid the likes of a Huddersfield disaster (29th Aug).

    We know as well as embarrassing etc for fans, it can also and most likely will knock all the stuffing out of the players and their confidence.

    We have another proven and well experienced manager moaning on good style the other morning, all because his team lost by 3, Chelsea could have been such a nasty one for us, similar to our next prem game away, City.

    So yes, negative tactics and a hell of a drag to watch, without bemoaning our players – it’s because of what is at his disposal, I think Rafa is trying to limit all damage the best way he thinks/can!

    So you glib apologists, as far as I, and so many others, are concerned; the blame all ends back to that 0dious goits fault, as what the hell does he expect, the obnoxious bile of sweaty pigs testicles.

    I honestly believe we have Rafa to thank that many other previous games over last few years haven’t been so ruddy damaging. As we’ve only just scraped by several games what could/would have been another colossal defeat – as history proves with the lame managers Newcastle sadly have had in recent history.
    In Chelsea and a class act; we missed another hell of a defeat thanks to Rafa, and some of those score lines still hurt today!

    So f00k they who speak negative, what do they know. Honestly, do they really think Rafa prefers and likes to play with such a negative formation or tactics, no chance, so s0d them all

    Maurizio Sarri even said after the game “In Italy I have never seen Rafa play with five defenders…” therefore Rafa only selects such tactics as he knows the team, and how there is limitations, he’s experienced enough to realise that, no choice, sadly I think its pretty obvious 😥