Rafa Benitez is clearly trying to use all of his experience to try and hold things together at Newcastle United.

With the constant undermining by Mike Ashley, it is really a job against the odds.

The fans are in revolt and this time there appears to be no chance of that fading away, whilst the bottom line is that Rafa Benitez simply has to try and get on with he job using the tools he has available.

To a backdrop of Ashley refusing to allow any net spending on players and Newcastle making the biggest summer transfer profit of any PL club, NUFC were then handed a nightmare opening to the season.

The fixtures giving up four of last season’s top six in the opening five games, plus Cardiff’s first home fixture after promotion. Plus a rematch against last season’s League Cup conquerors Forest. A potentially toxic combination.

Surveying three defeats and a draw so far, Rafa’s message is ‘Don’t be concerned’, the manager adding: The fans knew at the beginning that it would be a difficult start to the season, so we must just keep working and carrying on.’

Obviously we all have no other option but to ‘carry on’, however, the nature of the performances has been the worrying thing.

The Chelsea game was horrendous to watch but of course the mismatch on resources is clear. No excuses though when playing poor teams such as Cardiff and Forest, where Newcastle created next to nothing and looked the inferior side on both occasions.

With Manchester City and Arsenal next, it doesn’t get any easier, whilst Palace away, Leicester at home, Man U away, takes us two months into the season. Difficult to say with any great confidence where things will start turning for the better.

With this squad I think the position would be all but hopeless with any other manager Mike Ashley would want to employ, so Rafa Benitez remains our one route towards optimism.

Difficult times and everybody needing a lift.

Rafa Benitez asked about these first two and a half weeks of the season after Forest defeat:

“Don’t be concerned.

The fans knew at the beginning that it would be a difficult start to the season, so we must just keep working and carrying on.

“I am disappointed, everyone could see what happened.

“I didn’t like the beginning of the game but I think the team reacted well.

“We didn’t have much control but we were close, maybe we’re missing the final pass to create the more clear chance.

“When we had the draw and we were there, everyone saw what happened (next).

“It is a concern (having only one shot on target), we had the chances with the header in the first half but the final delivery or pass has to be better.

“Positives today? Rondon scored a goal, so you have to have your strikers scoring goals.

“To win a competition with our squad will not be easy, my team selection was trying to win, nobody can complain about that.

“We were pushing and trying to win.

“With two or three injured we couldn’t take risks with some others, this team was still good enough to win…we have just had three games we were disappointed with.

“It was a team that wanted to win and fight until the end, they tried to win, they didn’t have too many problems in defence and you could see it could be a draw.

“Longstaff and Sterry did well, given that they are young they overall played well.

“Muto needs to learn it is a bit quicker in England. He was fine in terms of effort but there are situations where he has to learn he needs to do things a little faster.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Nottingham Forest 3 Newcastle United 1

Goals

Newcastle: Rondon 90+2

Forest: Murphy 2, Cash 90+4, Dias 90+7

Possession was Forest 46% Newcastle 54%

Total shots were  Forest 11 Newcastle 10

Shots on target were Forest 7 Newcastle 1

Corners were  Forest 5 Newcastle 3

Referee: Jeremy Simpson

Crowd: 13,942 (3,000 Newcastle)

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Sterry,  Schar, Fernandez (Perez 69), Clark, Kenedy, Atsu, Ki, Longstaff, Muto (Murphy 77), Joselu (Rondon 82)

Unused Subs:

Elliot, Diame, Yedlin, Dummett



  • Ashley-out

    we may end up 2 months into the season without a win & if it goes pear shaped with just a point, the sooner Lascelles & Shelvey are back the better.

  • Paul Patterson

    No need to panic yet, but the sooner we get three wins on the board the better . .

    • Ashley-out

      before Christmas ?

      • Paul Patterson

        I always like to see where we are after we get to 10 points as that is a decent base to work from. Sadly, It’s looking like a long time coming and 40 points looks a marathon away . .

  • TinoAsprilla

    “…my team selection was trying to win, nobody can complain about that… We were pushing and trying to win… It was a team that wanted to win and fight until the end, they tried to win…”

    When was the last time we tried to win? Certainly wasn’t last night. Probably before we secured safety last season. Every game when we start off looking to survive without losing I hope we concede before half time so that we go forward and try and score a goal after the break. Like the Spurs game, when we performed well after falling behind. We bossed them and were unlucky, despite the supposed paucity of our squad. Of course we’re not Man City. But then we’re not Cardiff or Forest reserves either. And we used to have an attacking tradition.

    • Paul Patterson

      Trouble is, Cardiff and Forest are Championship teams, yet both have outspent us . .

      • TinoAsprilla

        Howay man, that doesn’t excuse the performance when Forest also had their reserves out. That’s always the answer, but it reminds me of that Oscar Wilde quote about the price of everything and the value of nothing. Not to mention Leicester City winning the league. I’d rather youngsters like Sterry and Longstaff were given opportunities (plural) to prove themselves than millions of pounds wasted on mediocre journeymen.

        • 1957

          Benitez doesn’t seem to like bringing young players through, a major criticism of him at Liverpool was his preference for journeyman (often Spanish or from La Liga) over youth players

        • James B

          Don’t bother mate. The Rafa worshippers will ignore or block you. He’s not allowed to be criticized for anything ever

      • Jezza

        …and outplayed us.

  • Jimblag23

    It’s quite likely we’ll be bottom by November. Palace and Leicester are hard games and those are the ones we’re looking for points from after playing all the big dogs.

    • Kneebotherm8

      Quite probable we’ll be bottom……..but hey ho…….it’s onwards and upwards after that……….as long as the stuffing hasn’t been knocked out of us by then…..

    • DC1964

      All games are hard in the Premiership, it’s going to be a long season!

  • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

    Rafa is correct that we didn’t expect much from the start of the season in regards to results given how difficult our start was. However, the performances against Cardiff, Chelsea and and Notts Forest… in 75% of our games so far are what concerns me.

    If Rafa isn’t concerned by some of the performances then that concerns me aswell. Watched some of the game back this morning and he looked like abit of a beaten man in the dug out.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    It’s like John Anderson said in the commentary before the season opener against Spurs concerning the summer window and the money spent in general.
    “You Will Only Get Away With It For So Long Before It Comes Back To Bite You”, So are we about to embark upon another watershed moment ?

    It is still early doors but you have to say that the latest squad assembled looks like another which will achieve Ashley his hat-trick of relegations in just over ten years !
    The first two relegations you could see coming a mile off and knew there was going to be little hope of staying up.
    I have to say that the whole feeling and vibe of this start to the season has all the hallmarks of yet another impending Mike Ashley Disaster.

    Like Ando said, You will get away with penny pinching for a time but ultimately it is unsustainable, And you will get relegated.
    The last stay was about 5 years but Ashley might surpass himself this time with another demotion inside of two seasons this time around.

    • Wezza

      Only Rafa can save us from relegation but I’ve kept saying then what? If we survive then what for next season? Survive again. Rinse and repeat while the Owner takes in hundreds of millions.
      As bad as it sounds it may take relegation to get him to sell up. Maybe we need to start over and rebuild which would take years after asset stripping.
      It doesn’t feel like our club anymore.

      • TheFatController

        Paul Lambert will be manager next season.

        He talks such a good game – with him we’d have a right go at Chelsea (it may have to be in the cup if course).He told us. Genius.

        We await the Lamberolution with Shola as coach.

  • LockieToon

    The fact Notts Forrest spent more than us in the summer clearly sums up our current situation. Anyone defending Ashley is an absolute clueless idiot!!

    • Cuh

      Spent on who exactly? Championship quality players. Give me a break

      • TheFatController

        I’m reminded of that Star Wars quote ‘not everyone drops their cargo at the first sign of an imperial star cruiser..’

        Do you always panic when we lose to two of the four title contenders and get our compulsory August league cup exit?

    • Forrest didn’t have a prayer with Lascelles, Dubravka, Yedlin, Shelvey, Diame and Ritchie on the pitch. Without all of them playing we just can’t win, even against Championship teams.

  • Leicester Mag

    So we turn a corner scape a run together, then what? Round the corner is another fatberg in the form of Ashley.

  • Cuh

    I’m bothered. When we lost to Nottingham forest last season, we went out 3-2. The two goal scorers that day have been alienated by Rafa.

    Against Spurs and chelsea this season, the excuse was that those were top teams, and we did well to avoid a 5-nil thrashing. Now Nottingham forest, and an even poorer performance… The excuse is that Nottingham spent more than we did?!

    We spent more than Hull two years ago while we were in the championship, but they still beat us in the cup!!

    • TheFatController

      Spurs being a top team isn’t an excuse, given they just won 3-0 at Old Trafford it’s an explanation of why we maybe deserved a draw but got beaten.

      Huddersfield lost 3-0 at home to Chelsea and 6-1 at City. They are our competition. What’s their excuse?

      • Sadly, we are hoping there are 3-4 teams worse than us this season. Rafa is right, the only way to do it is shut up shop. He wanted to attack teams, but didn’t get a chance to sign any decent attacking players. Rejects and losers is what we got and we’re wondering why the poor mentality! There must have been top Belgian, Czech or Polish league teams willing to sell their star players for 10m, why we didn’t buy anyone who’s actually won something? No need to look in France or Barcelona for players like this.

        • mentalman

          It all depends who is identifying the players

  • DC1964

    I’ve never seen Rafa look and act so downtrodden as he did in the interview after last night’s game.

    • Milburn_Taylor

      sick of his life trying to paper over the cracks in a squad not fit for purpose and the man to blame is Ashley.

      • DC1964

        I totally agree, he’s a nightmare!

    • Ron

      Maybe the Premier League or Sky should require the owners to also comment after the match, maybe explaining why they have made the decisions binding on their managers.
      I can hear it now “buying players is risky, they might not work out, and we might not recoup what was paid. It’s much safer to keep the money in the bank or to buy failing high street stores.”

    • mentalman

      my wife commented last night that she’s never seen rafa looking as unkempt. I hadn’t really noticed but after she mentioned it he really didn’t look like his normally well presented self

  • Milburn_Taylor

    the money wasted on mediocre players is unbelievable when you add it all up,
    i wonder where the Ashley acolytes are today.

  • kingfisher

    In the 50 odd years I’ve supported this club there have been some bad times however, I personally no longer have any hope, dreams, and more importantly, enjoyment in supporting this joke of a football club. We are a world wide joke and an embarrassment to the North East.

    How anyone can continue to go to SJP and support this laughing stock of a football club is beyond me.All this is down to one man, and one man, only: Mike Ashley !

    • Milburn_Taylor

      50 years for me as well

    • Oldgeordie

      72 for me.

      • kingfisher

        At least you must have seen us win a few F.A cups Geordie, personally it’s only been the Fairs Cup for me! Who would have thought in over 50 years we would have won not a jot!

    • magpiefifer

      Being a supporter for 64 years I’m lucky enough to remember us winning a domestic trophy – sadly, I can’t see that being repeated in my lifetime.Thanks Ashley!!

    • Paul Patterson

      At least regimes in the past tried to compete, even if their attempts we’re often misguided.
      This one actively doesn’t . .

    • mentalman

      i spoke to a few mates who still go and they said they only went because their sons are too young to fully understand what MA is doing to the club and they would feel bad not taking them

      • kingfisher

        Yes, that makes a lot of sense mentalman. I can understand that!

  • magpiefifer

    Rafa,I’m concerned – I’m very concerned!
    When will we see the end of this nightmare – called Ashley!?

  • Jezza

    We haven’t been able to compete with middling Championship clubs in the transfer market for a while and now we can’t compete with them on the pitch either. I’m concerned….but I don’t blame Rafa.

    • James B

      Of course you don’t. He’s a god who’s not allowed to be questioned on anything ever right?. All wins are down to him. All draws and loses are Ashley’s faults. All signings who do well are his gems and all who fail are somebody else’s fault. Still suckIng hard his kn0b I see.

  • Spoon_Army

    The team is really no better than last season so it will be hard and sometimes hopeless until May 2019 when finally summer will be here and some rest.