It’s pretty obvious we’re right up against it here.

In between the negative publicity, angry protests and outpourings of historic revision from Ashley and Bishop’s paid henchmen on various peripheral media outlets, the actual matches have played something of a second fiddle so far, but on Sunday it all seemed to come together against the glum backdrop of a dying summer.

Our club seemed to be staggering on the ropes from the outset, but a few more body blows were soon landed.

Bang – Shelvey injured. Bang – Lascelles injured. Bang bang bang – Lascelles rumoured to be dropped, not injured, following a bust up with Rafa over the negative three centre halves formation. Oh God. You can throw in a couple of subtle jabs as well, if also considering that we had 3 players on full debut and Chelsea’s team had an average cost of £35 million per player. Gonna have to watch this between the fingers lads.

This was true, as it turned out to be a dreadful, miserable forgettable game that was hard work for those of us with a vested interest, so thump knows how many of the neutral audience watching on Sky stuck the full 90. Rafa had set the team up for solid defence, with the imposing figure of Fernandez slotting in alongside Schar and Clark in that dreaded 5-man backline. They were organised, tidy and ensured the game was a turgid non-affair for long, long periods.

Predictably, this brought about a backlash on Rafa in the same style as the Man City game last year. Of course the henchmen were all over it, huddled over their Twitter like dishevelled hobbits, gleefully rubbishing Rafa in a way that somehow is supposed to vindicate Ashley I assume. Sky didn’t like it either of course, and their resident rent-a-tw.ts threw their opinion in, but this performance also served to divide Newcastle fans I think, many feeling the negative energy around this season was demoralising enough without having to sit through this.

Of course, the stupidest, most vindictive prick out there at the minute is Richard Keys, and he did not disappoint in giving the most backward and insulting opinion possible; that Newcastle fans would rather lose 5-4 than win 1-0. Let’s ignore the fact that this is harking back to the 90s Keegan era of cavalier football, which seems to be allowed, whereas harking back to the 90s era of Newcastle challenging Man Utd and Arsenal for the title is the stuff of deluded nonsense. Let’s just focus on the backward logic of that statement.

We have twice gone out of the Premier League in circumstances where gaining one extra point across the season would have kept us up. This isn’t an opinion, there is an answer. It’s better to win playing ugly than lose magnificently. If you think otherwise you’re wrong and you deserve the next manager.

The reason we have to play like this is because the opposition cost about half a billion quid to assemble. We have been gradually eroded by transfer decisions by committee, based on people’s age and sell on value as opposed to whether they are needed in the team, and even then sporadic investment being given seemingly only when the wrong people are in charge as a result of a bungling appointment process. Meanwhile figures are manipulated, income streams are stifled and large parts of profit sit in mysterious limbo.

Yes, this was dismal, as Rondon chased gamely around up front feeding on scraps, but you can’t give someone cucumber and rice cakes then say the meal they’ve prepared is a little bit bland.

Anyway, I’ve got to say some of this kind of stuff, so: Murphy tried gamefully on the left but his early shot on target was easily saved by Kepa when the unmarked player to his left looked to be the best option, even if it was Paul Dummett. Rondon had his best chance when Fernandez returned the second ball from a free kick but headed wide when he surely had to hit the target.

Chelsea bided their time ahead of the wall of defence but Hazard looked likely to be the pain in the arse he always is. Also, the ref gradually betrayed himself as being bent as a nine bob note, as Chelsea got free kicks for every swan dive while proving themselves unbookable. I’m sure Kovacic had a knuckle duster out at one point, but it might just be that he looks the type.

The sitting back continued second half, with Rudiger smashing one against the bar from 30 yards rather than attempting to work his way through the wall of black and whit ahead. Rafa’s plan would have been to press a bit more with fresh legs at the end and try to nick one, but the introduction of Joselu then Perez combined to lose out to a counter attack, Chelsea went haring forward, Alonso tumbled over Schar’s challenge and obviously their mate gave it. Even more obviously Hazard knocked it in and this depressing afternoon had its cherry on the top.

The decision was dubious but surely Schar’s reaction spoke volumes, raging at the time, to the fourth official when substituted, in post match interviews and I can only assume in the Duke of Wellington at chucking out time, such was his sense of indignation.

Chelsea had made a rather bizarre move, withdrawing Morata for Celebrity Big Brother host Rylan Clark-Neal in what I can only assume must be some sort of Shoreditch based job share arrangement. This proved to be their downfall though, as Clark-Neal got himself in a tangle that involved him maliciously head butting DeAndre Yedlin’s elbow. The former X-Factor finalist went down like a bag of spuds and Yedlin delivered a magnificent cross for the onrushing Joselu to smartly head in at the near post in a near replica of his Tottenham goal. Lovely stuff, relief, delirium.

Didn’t last though, course it didn’t. Yedlin turned Alonso’s scruffy shot into his own net 5 minutes later to inflict the day’s final body blow. This lucky late winner of course vindicated the anti-Rafa brigade as this minuscule margin of defeat would have been overturned had we went blaring forward from the off.

Some hard yards these days mind.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2

Goals

Newcastle: Joselu

Chelsea: Hazard 76 (Pen), Yedlin 87 (OG)

Possession was Chelsea 81% Newcastle 19%

Total shots were  Chelsea 15 Newcastle 6

Shots on target were Chelsea 3 Newcastle 2

Corners were  Chelsea 5 Newcastle 4

Referee: Paul Tierney

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar (Muto 79), Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Ki, Diame, Murphy (Perez 73), Rondon (Joselu 62)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Sterry, Longstaff, Atsu

Crowd: 51,791 (3,200 Chelsea)

(Alan Shearer finds result a ‘sickener’ – Read HERE)

(Match ratings for NUFC players from one of our writers HERE)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2 – Read HERE)

(Was Rafa Benitez right to use such negative tactics considering players he had available and quality of opposition? Vote HERE)

(Rafa Benitez gives post-match update on Shelvey and Lascelles injuries HERE)

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

To feature like Jamie Smith submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here


  • kingfisher

    What goes around, comes around so they say. Ashley tells lies to Rafa and breaks his promises re: transfer funds, consequently Rafa has to set up his team accordingly playing defensive, unattractive, terrible to watch football. Sky stop televising our matches because nobody wants to watch the type of shyte football Newcastle play.Ashleys revenue (and hopefully crowds) drop, so like Yedlin on Sunday, he scores a spectacular own goal and his business practices come back to bite him on his more than ample backside. love it!!

    • Will In Despair!

      Yep, also I’m thinking that 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 this morning, all because his team lost by 3, Chelsea could have been such a nasty one for us, similar to our next game away, City.
      So yes, negative tactics and a hell of a drag to watch, without bemoaning our players – 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 believe we have Rafa to thank that many other previous games over last few years haven’t been so ruddy damaging. As we’ve scraped by several what could/would have been another colossal defeat – as history proves with the lame managers Newcastle have had in recent history, in Chelsea 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, s0d them all!

      • kingfisher

        Well said Will.👍👏Rafa really has no other choice in these games against the top sides than what amounts to damage limitation.

      • Westdentoon

        Well said 👍

  • Ern1966

    Along with most of the pundits who watched this travesty of a football match(!) I am as disgusted as the highly paid experts who took every opportunity to criticise Rafa’s tactics. In the modern world how can it be possible for a club to be funded to the tune of 1 Billion pounds with money that does not appear to have a legal source, from a man who does not qualify for a British visa; whose constant changing of management team costs more than our player record signing of 13 years ago, and this event still be called a sporting occasion?

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Not getting any luck on or off the pitch this season. Could have easily had five points and that is with six players injured. We will bounce back that Is for sure. Only single seats left for Arsenal in the normal part of the ground so fans are keeping the faith.
    It was always going to be a tough start but we have held our own in all three matches our time will come.

    • Kenny

      I said 2 points after 6 games and unfortunately it’s looking nailed on
      🤡

    • Billmag

      Nothing wrong with positivity Monk but you are getting really repetitive it doesn’t help your case as the best ever supporter in the land.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        You must admit we have not had the rub of the green with the Tottenham goal just over the line, the unfair pen and the Cardiff keeper doing a save off Perez he knew nothing about. The biggest blow was losing Lejeune then on top of that five other players. Played really good so fatr and it will get better.

        • Billmag

          I have never considered blocking you simply because I don’t mind reading your banter but if it’s true that Brian Standen has met you and you are as mad as hatter NUFC supporter then that’s good enough for me, I just can’t get my head around your constant backing of a man that’s single handedly destroying our club.

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            More than mad as a hatter. Applied to go on the fans forum many time but they do not want the likes of me so blacklisted and will never get on as have bad reputation but still support the club.

          • Brian Standen

            He is as mad as a box of frogs, exciteable is a word I keep using! And yes he loves the club but he has had his brushes with the officialdom over the years!
            Much as many of you dislike him I will add I disagree with his opinions but he really is an ok lad!
            You would have had him on your side when……ahem err …. opposing fans were a bit hostile!

      • Will In Despair!

        My recent convo’s with this particular apologist has proven to me that he is a liar, like many of his ilk!

        He lies and will fabricate as many as he possible can, many many lies, untruths or fake news!

        Laughable as it seems, to try promote MA/SD hoping that it shows, contrary to the facts we all know, that he is indeed Newcastle United’s Knight in shining armour, and has actually invested trillions upon gazillions in our club, hasn’t asset stripped and sold our best players without replacing etc – as MA is the bestest ever Toon owner ever the fans will ever see! Lol, lol, lol.

        So do not trust ANYTHING that he posts, regardless of alias, as all are complete lies or very very twisted truths 😁

        Liar liar your pants are on fire, Mugpie!

        Noob ‘I’m still waiting those juicy links’

    • Icky (Heaton)

      Ah, goody, thankfully good old lady luck will help us win games, and avoid us nasty relegations!

      You numpty noob pillock!

      Yet its never the truth and fact that Newcastle has had minimal player etc investment, while simultaneously been asset stripped, since this hideous pleb has owned our club!

      APOLOGIST f’ing 🐑.

      🤮 🤮 🤮

    • SuperDesHamilton

      Monk can you confirm mike Ashley necks pints of gravy

    • Will In Despair!

      My recent convo’s with this particular apologist has proven to me that he is without doubt; a liar, like many of his ilk!

      Constant lie after lie, and will fabricate as many as he feasibly can, many many many lies, untruths or fake news!

      Laughable as it seems, all to try promote MA/SD hoping that it shows contrary to the facts and truths we all know, that he’s Newcastle United’s Knight in shining armour, and has actually invested trillions upon gazillions in our club, hasn’t once asset stripped and/or sold our best players without replacing etc, as MA is the bestest ever Toon owner ever the fans will ever behold! Lol.

      So do not trust ANYTHING that he posts, regardless of alias, as all are complete lies or very very twisted truths 😁

      Liar liar your pants are on fire, Mugpie!

      Noob ‘I’m still waiting those juicy links’

      • Brian Standen

        I am going to have to set a record straight here – I have had my suspicions all along who Monk Mag is – and true to his word he turned up after the game on Sunday sought me out and we had a couple of beers!
        What I will say to those who doubt his existence he is very real!
        I had been on a few of the more exciteable trips with him back in the day!
        We disagree on many things and have differing opinions but we were had a good chat and a catch up!
        What I will add is NUFC is his life, of course he has family etc but he absolutely cares about NUFC and despite what people think he is not totally pro Ashley. His factual knowledge of accounts and going’s on his equally impressive!
        I will be catching up with him again at Forest on wed night….. he does virtually every game!
        I will also add he is one of NUFCs more exciteable fans and has had us own run ins with club officials over the years.
        Disagree with him like I do is fine, but doubt his existence and you are way off the mark!

        • Kenny

          And where did this meeting happen

          • Brian Standen

            Where I drink every game – Peppers ( cheap beer you know).
            As soon as he walked in I knew it was him!
            He used to ( I think still does) run a bus to away games – and i will see him in Nottingham on wed night!
            I can’t really verify things any further – suffice to say why would I make it up!

          • Leazes.

            Really whats his name then…..Its not Steve Wraith?

          • Brian Standen

            Of course not and to be honest it would not be right of me to name him!
            And I do disagree with most of what he says! But he is passionate and knowledgeable about NUFC!

          • Leazes.

            Yes it would…. people owe him one….

            its not that bald guy from the ‘Back Page’ is it?…. or Billy Furious?

          • Brian Standen

            Nope
            I really won’t name him – I am gonna see him in Nottingham on wed night I will ask him
            Even you must see it would be irresponsible and crass of me to name him!
            However if you want to out yourself then of course feel free.
            I don’t have the problem of annonimity!

          • Leazes.

            It is isn’t it….. that’s the one….it fits…. the politics…..

          • Damon Horner

            Interesting stuff. You’d have no reason to falsely verify for any of his doubters. You can tell in the way he writes he uses no other aliases. I just wish he wouldn’t consider Ashley and the club one of the same!

          • Brian Standen

            I’m with you on that for sure

          • Brian Standen

            Out of interest what do people owe him?

          • Leazes.

            Probably ten years of their lives, he’s a waste of friggin space, thank god for the block button, I thought it was funny at first….. hope his business goes bust!

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            You really are a despicable front tuppence Leazes’. An utter scumbag.

        • Wezza

          It doesn’t matter if he is real or not he talks exactly like the other shill aliases who’s always say the same thing about the accounts. He is also a proven liar and why is it he talks like he is promoting the club?

          • Brian Standen

            And like I keep saying I disagree with much of what he says but he is NUFC through and through

          • Wezza

            For him to come out and says ‘rafa gets every penny’ AFTER that summer transfer window, is pure trolling.

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            For the last two sets of Accounts it is true I await last years with interest in March.

        • Superdooperhooper

          Sorry but he doesn’t know the difference between a debt and a liability so his knowledge is simplistic at best. He’s basically reading numbers on a page and pretending to understand it

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            As I was the Financial controller for Thomsons for many years and worked in the City of London with the Burton group I have thirty odd years specialising in Accounts and would back myself against anyone reading a balance sheet. That is the problem with this site they do not understand the numbers.

          • Superdooperhooper

            Then why do you insist on peddling this line about the club having 148m in liabilities before ashley took over? We had a debt for the 15000 new seats which was being paid for by extra gate revenue

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Monks’ is correct. The actual liabilities at the point MA took over was £161m.

            I’d take out accruals and provisions as we don’t know the full workings. The key figures are:

            Loans £67m
            Overdraft £11m
            Unpaid transfer fees: £52m
            Other /Deferred income (mainly advanced sponsorship + HMRC liability): £28m

            If you think the debt was just for the stadium, it’s you Superdooper’ who does not understand the figures.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Where do you think he’s gone wrong? If he just read from a page, then the figure is £161m. He’s actually reduced the figure to rinse out the paper provisions.

        • Spoon_Army

          I’ve known MM for a good few years and I can vouch what your saying. I’ve been going to games for over 35 years and I know no one who is even close to going to as many games as MM. He is a bit of a legend in certain circles.

          • Brian Standen

            Indeed – as soon as I saw him I knew it was Monk Mag, I could share a tale or two, funny enough a Forest trip back in the 80s when we stopped off at Goldthorpe ( between Doncaster and Barnsley) on the way back! Let’s just say the night ended in chaos as the locals took exception…… was quite lively.

    • Lord

      Actually I agree with you. We’ve played Chelsea and Spurs at home and could have nicked points. They are both looking like top 4 teams; look at Man U’s result. What a pity Joselu didn’t knock that pen in and get 3 goals in 3 games.

      I think we’ll be fine this season. But we could be doing so much better than ‘fine’ if Rafa had been given some backing.

      Ashley is not good for us at any level and I will debate against any poster that argues otherwise.

      • Kenny

        You’ll be debating with the trolls then as they’re the only ones that support the Fat 🐀 Rat

        • Lord

          I think Monk is not a troll, just blindly supports the team and doesn’t really think deeply enough about how that attitude inadvertently hurts our progress. I think Bobbi is a club insider (or related to one). Clarko has some sort of Aspergers. Ghostrider doesn’t like Rafa’s style of play and enjoys being belligerent. Ben Jones is fed up of everyone calling everyone else trolls and so just winds them up in return at every opportunity. Brian is Brian. Everyone else supporting the Ashley regime / anti-Rafa is either insane, Mike’s friend or lives under a bridge and eats goats.

  • Billmag

    The Chelsea manager summed our situation perfectly saying Rafa never played a defensive set up like that whilst managing in Italy, which just goes to show how far we’ve sunk under fatty’s stewardship. On another topic fatty is closing some branches of HoF because of greedy landlords you couldn’t make it up could you.

    • Mxpx

      I’d put the rent up if I was his landlord

      • Billmag

        Yes right up where the 🌞 doesn’t shine.

        • Big Hairy Man

          Not a pleasant place to be. Ask Fleckman.

          • Kenny

            👍🏻

          • Billmag

            😀😀😀😀😀.

      • Kenny

        I would evict him

    • SuperDesHamilton

      The pundits who’s slated Benítez tactics gleefully don’t bother asking why he’s playing that way then go on about Ashley doing a great job….he plays that way because he doesn’t & hasnt been allowed to bring the personnel in required to make the squad better….because of there hero mike Ashley’s lack of investment. You couldn’t make it up

      • Big Al 1967

        And yet today Ian Wright, (YES IAN WRIGHT!!!) has actually come out and defended Rafa and his tactics stating Chelsea players are worth 8 times more than ours and told the pundits to get a grip!. I nearly passed out. The nation is slowly beginning to turn

        • SuperDesHamilton

          Hahahaha I need to see this if anyone likes to put the boot in it’s Ian Wright he despises us northerners

  • Ba ba.

    Great article.

  • GlasgowMag

    Rafa is really in a no win situation brought upon by a totally blatant asset stripping transfer window. Ok the pundits are clueless not even a mention of the real reason behind Rafas tactics being brought upon by this hideous regimes lack of investment!! The thing that really bugs me is the so called fans on here having a real dig with moans of Rafas tactics and we may be better off with someone else!! Chelsea have invested a lot of money this season Hazard alone can cause some real damage if a team like Newcastle opens up!! So where did Rafa go wrong basically it was down to bad luck and some shocking refereeing so it nearly worked!!! The only person I blame for this mess is Fatboy and god help us when Rafa goes as you think it’s bad now then you ain’t seen nothing yet!!!

    • Ron

      Thank you for those words of comfort. I just wish you were wrong, but you’re not.

    • Haitchdee

      Yes we have Schteve Dutch McLaren for a start. God help us coz the Fat lad won’t.

  • Kenny

    The injuries are starting to mount,
    Shelvey our until after the international break, Lascelles & Richie have knocks & are unlikely to play. That’s 3 of our best players add Lejeune & we have 4 first team starters out.

  • WrongToon

    The thing is, we were so close to having totally different headlines. As stated in the article, if it wasn’t for a soft penalty and a deflected own goal, we’d be talking about a side that had 19% possession at home coming away with 3 points. Rafa would be credited for getting it spot on.

    I mean, with our captain, 1st choice midfielder and left winger all out, what else was Rafa supposed to do? Go 4-3-3 and get tonked, but at least we “had a go”? Nobody is talking about how Man U played pretty well last night, particularly the first half. Just that they lost 3-0. That’s all that matters.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    The football on display is pure dross but that is more to do with the lousy owner who keeps the manager short of good tools.
    Rafa is only reacting to the hand he is being dealt and in the end we only got beaten by an own goal.
    Like the article suggests that a Newcastle side from the past played entertaining football and that covered up for a multitude of sins.
    Lets be honest, If we had been managed by Kevin Keegan on Sunday, In all likelihood we would have lost that game by 4 or 5 goals !

    • Kenny

      Keegan wouldn’t manage a squad that bad, he’d have walked & in fact he did.

      • X,WHY,Y MAN.

        He still went along with Ashley for a good while before he chucked it !

  • Milburn_Taylor

    I wonder how many more years we are going to be subjected to the garbage being dished out by Newcastle, our reputation is at an all time low and we are being dragged into the gutter by Ashley, if Rafa has any brains at all he will leave asap

    • Leazes.

      May 31st is when his contract is up…..and I don’t think he’ll renew….. neither will I.

      Brian has fallen asleep again.

      • Milburn_Taylor

        he would be mad to stay under Ashley

        • Leazes.

          Not a pleasant picture.

          • Milburn_Taylor

            got me there

      • Brian Standen

        Not asleep but I do have a working life!
        I am lucky enough to be working in sandiacre tomorrow hence forest is an easy one for me!
        Will meet up with Monk in the city centre or wherever him and his mates are

        • Leazes.

          He appears to be in Taunton with his son watching cricket it must be a sporting jaunt.

          MM is Mad Mick Edmundson isn’t he?

          • MrShack66

            Mick was a year above me in school. Good looker in his day. Fat as owt the last time I saw him.

          • Wezza

            Well if it is he said he posts on his computer.

  • Kenny

    The trolls must be having a meeting all 2 of them 🤡🤡

    • Leazes.

      I think they might be having a few days on a sporting trip…. well that’s what he’s posted under his real name…. I think Brian has just inadvertently exposed him.

    • Brian Standen

      Hope you don’t class me as a troll!
      I don’t hide behind an alias!

  • DeadToiler

    Good article, intelligently written.

  • LA toon

    On my way back to USA. Always get to see a game when I visit. Best part of the game was the atmosphere. Especially with the wind and rain when someone behind commented ” when is that f**k going to fix the leak in the roof!” Hopefully a PL game next year. Also Rafa can only be defensive and try to nick a goal with what he has.

  • Down Under Mag

    It seems to be for all the world that there is some plan that has been set in motion. I have thought and even suggested for a while now, but it seems more and more likely that Ashley is going to run the club into the ground, collect as much money as he can and leave when he has squeezed every last penny out of the club before leaving and handballing the subsequent s**tshow of rebuilding to the new owner who he will sucker into buying it. The rebuilding now is looking all the more likely to not only include playing staff, manager and coaches but the academy setup and infrastructure, off-field staff and of course given the recent photo’s doing the rounds about the state of the ground that as well!

    My worry is that the alternative is that he is actively trying to smear the club, put off any prospective owner so he can claim he tried but failed to sell and claim he is the only one who wants us and therefore we should be happy, knowing full well that he can keep us as a yo-yo club, raking in the cash and having as little outlay as possible. The big ask though is who he will get in as the next manager because Rafa certainly won’t be around come the end of the season and whether they can keep the club in the top flight (or get us back up) with the current squad available.

  • Philippines

    Watching this game on an internet feed in the Philippines, sitting with another Toon supporter, I commented that the Ref must have had a Chelsea shirt underneath his red one. Given his resources, Rafa did well and we were not far off winning the game but for a very dubious penalty and the own goal.