Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have been discussing Rafa Benitez.

The pair chatting on Sky Sports about the Newcastle manager following the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

Much said about the tactics used in Sunday’s game and the two former players coming up with some pretty strange conclusions.

Both Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher not liking the tactics used by Rafa, which is fair enough, but then using Sunday’s match as a basis for suggesting why ‘top’ clubs such as Arsenal wouldn’t want him as manager these days, which is not (fair enough).

The thing is, Manchester City last season was an extreme, not the norm for Rafa Benitez and Newcastle.

The game at St James Park which attracted so much attention last season because of the tactics, fell in the middle of a very busy Christmas/New Year period with four games over a nine day stretch.

As well as the change of tactics against Man City, Rafa made a number of changes, playing the likes of Aarons, Murphy and Mbemba, whilst resting players such as Ritchie.

Newcastle of course emerged from that home Man City match with just a 1-0 loss, almost grabbing a point late on.

However, the other three games in that festive nine day stretch saw Newcastle pick up seven points from nine against relegation rivals, winning at West Ham and Stoke, plus a draw at home to Brighton. With such a weak squad, no wonder Rafa Benitez chose to prioritise the other games. Also, Newcastle didn’t beat Stoke and West Ham via all out defence in those games, they scored four goals in total and had a combined 25 shots in these two away matches.

Also, if you look at games such as Man Utd and Chelsea last season, Rafa Benitez beat both of them by going on the offensive, playing a higher pressing game because he felt able to do so due to players he had available and what they could give at that point.

Gary Neville quotes the example of Bournemouth as an example of ‘more progressive’ football than the likes of Newcastle United.

It’s funny how people can still see, maybe subconsciously, Newcastle as a big club, but don’t recognise just how severely Mike Ashley is limiting the ambitions of Rafa and the fans.

I really like Eddie Howe but he has a very rich owner who is doing everything he can to make the club successful, including in the transfer market.

Last summer (2017) the Cherries spent £20m on defender Nathan Ake, this summer they have spent over £25m on defensive midfielder Jefferson Lerma.

In contrast, very rich Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has made a transfer profit this summer of around £25m and hasn’t allowed Rafa Benitez to spend more than £10m on any player in the three transfer windows since returning to the Premier League.

Rafa Benitez has wanted a new first choice centre-forward ever since promotion but last summer was restricted to £5m Stoke reserve Joselu and this time, despite selling Mitrovic for £22m (could rise to £7m) was only allowed to bring in £2m loan signing Rondon.

I like the look of Rondon as in I think he will hopefully do ok and looks strong BUT does anybody honestly think that if Benitez was allowed to shop in the £22m+ market, the West Brom striker would have been his choice?!!

Rafa Benitez isn’t the most attacking of managers but with the right personnel his teams can play good progressive football, as well as being built on a solid base at the back.

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher speaking on Sky Sports on Monday night:

Jamie Carragher:

“I keep hearing people say you’ve got to have a go. What does have a go mean? Having a go to me means pressing the ball and being aggressive.

“You may not have the quality when you get the ball and the runners might not make the right runs to cause a team problems, but that was my problem with Newcastle last season and the difference with Wolves [against Manchester City].

“It’s not a massive difference, just the mentality of how to press the ball and doing it a lot higher. If you do that you might have more opportunities to go forward.

The thing about Rafa, who I had as a manager for six years and is probably my biggest influence in football, I actually look at where the game is going and how people perceive you as a coach.

“We spoke last week about how Unai Emery wants to play and it’s fine, that’s how the top teams play and the top coaches want to play. But someone like Rafael Benitez with his actual CV of what he has done, winning two La Liga titles, the European Cup, a European trophy with Chelsea and trophies pretty much everywhere.

“Why wasn’t he actually in the running or interviewed for the Arsenal job with his great experience of the Premier League? It may be along the lines of where the game’s going and how it’s perceived.”

Gary Neville:

“What I would say, and I’ve seen this now over the last six to 12 months, there is definitely an attitude change towards what would be the more pragmatic coaches, towards what would be the more progressive coaches.

“There is an attitude change from fans, who are paying more and I think they are demanding more progressive football. They realise the likes of say, Bournemouth, who are playing what you would describe as progressive football, can stay in the Premier League. You don’t need to be 4-4-2, you don’t need to be deep, you don’t need to be behind the ball, you don’t need to play long ball and direct.

“Owners are thinking more of their brand, sponsorship, social media and the way their club is presented. The younger coaches are now a lot more progressive and more often than not so are the players.

“We wouldn’t have minded sitting in a 4-4-2 and dogging a game out. Players are far less willing to do that nowadays. They want to play in a team that’s expansive and has more progressive football, more progressive ideas.”



  • East Durham Mag

    If fans are paying more and should be able to demand progressive football then a manager with a proven track record of success should be able to demand a level of investment to propel the club forward? These two c#nts can do one i can’t stand either of them.

  • TheFatController

    Only last week Caragher said ‘the one thing that kept newcastle up was having Rafa as manager as he’s better than the other coaches in the bottom 13 of the league’

    So then Rafa, with a weakened team available compared to our Spurs game, changes tactics to suit our strengths on the day.

    And now he may be a dinosaur and out of date?

    Punditry. You don’t need A levels or a degree to qualify to be one. And it shows…

    • FatParosite

      The pundits seem unable and unwilling to connect facts. Which is why they are punditing and not currently anywhere near managing.

      • TheFatController

        Also they are employed by Sky to criticise teams that don’t give them 9 goal thrillers and instead do what is required to stay up, which is the manager’s remit.

        I notice Brighton didn’t do much at Liverpool. Rightly, given liverpool have maybe the best front theee in Europe.

        Brighton keep getting stuffed at anfield, probably because they’re too open. They get tight, lose 1-0, protect confidence and goal difference, and wait to play expansive football against players who are not the best in Europe.

    • SuperDesHamilton

      Gary Neville talks for the sake of it. He cons a lot of people by saying a lot of words so it looks at though he’s in know

      • Kneebotherm8

        He speaks a lot……….but doesn’t actually say very much……🤐

        • SuperDesHamilton

          Nail on the head

      • porciestreet

        A genius for the obvious……sometimes known as a bu11$hitter.

        • SuperDesHamilton

          Aye captain hindsight

    • Ron

      Rafa knows how to cut his cloth, and to change tactics to suit that cut. What else can he do, players off injured and him manacled during consecutive transfer windows, what else could he do?
      He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t!
      It’s not really about Rafa’s tactics but Sky’s (not well) hidden agenda.

    • Dave Pattinson

      Carragher should stick to spitting at little girls. He’s better at that.

    • Lord

      To be fair to Carragher (who I think is a good pundit), I don’t think he was saying that. He was saying that Rafa’s style of playing may have put him out of contention for the Arsenal job (regardless of whether he would have wanted it or not).

      He’s probably right; even if Rafa had board backing I don’t think his style is what Arsenal would be looking for post-Wenger; we’ve seen that by his time at Chelsea and Real Madrid.

      What they should have discussed is why Rafa is playing *so* defensively. He was quite clear about it in the post match conference: the average cost of a Chelsea player = combined net spend of our past six transfer windows combined. Shocking!

  • Sickandtired

    And over 20 years ago they were all telling KK he was clueless and would never win anything playing that way. How the world turns, as does the worm.
    Normally don’t mind Caragher’s comments, but Neville? An utter failure at his attempt at coaching should really have some humility when criticising others.

    • Kneebotherm8

      No shame has he?….and/or a very short memory….

  • SuperDesHamilton

    Benitez at Valencia – 2 La Liga’s, 1 UEFA Cup.

    Neville at Valencia – Sunburn & embarrassment.

    • Kneebotherm8

      Proved without a doubt that he could talk the talk………but couldn’t walk the walk……..stick to punditry Gary…….yer slightly better at that than actually putting yer ideas into practice…….

      • SuperDesHamilton

        He was talking about Valencia saying he only knew about 3 players & no Spanish. Imagine if that had been a manager in the premier league, he’d be tearing strips off them from his cushy little pundit job. His arrogance is staggering

        • Kneebotherm8

          Any excuse from him………he was a management abject failure……..simple as…..how he feels comfortable criticising other managers is beyond me…..skin as thick as a rhino……

          • SuperDesHamilton

            I’ve just compared the teams & Neville needs to hang his head his team was quality! The only players who I would swap from Benitez last title winning team would be Ricardo Olivera & Aimar. Aimar was majestic it’s shame Argentina had him Riquleme & D’alessandro & Conca all in the same position at the same time

    • Big Al 1967

      The same Gary Neville who I believe started at least 6 defenders against Barcelona when in charge of Valencia…..and got humped 7-0! Short memory or just selective?

      • SuperDesHamilton

        He played a back 5 of centre half’s 😂 selective memory of course, his nauseating

  • toonterrier

    When these two are reporting live on the box I turn the sound off.

    • Kneebotherm8

      Good idea that…

  • Alan Chance

    These two clowns are pundits, they do not have the intelligence or courage to be managers and appeal to followers who have the IQs of white van drivers, not worth listening to.

  • Wor Lass

    Gary Neville is a good analyst, in my opinion, but he has proven without doubt that he couldn`t lace Rafa`s boots as a manager. He should be embarrassed to comment on him.

  • Cockneytrev

    What is carragher even doing back on tv after being caught on camera spitting at a fan?

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Completely agree. Shows where skysports are at.

  • Spoon_Army

    When these two open their gobs it’s time to switch off.

    What is clear is that Rafa will do everything in his power to preserve our PL status using every ounce of his skill and the ability in the squad. Something these two won’t have any clue about.

  • Dan Watson

    I so very rarely post. I used to post on the Chronic until it turned into the mouthpiece for Gashley’s Gooch. I just want to say, last weekend we had a host of new faces in the starting line up- important positions too, all the way through our spine. We kept a Billionaire’s squad going until the full 96+ minute had been played. Never was the result in question. Were we good? No. Were we competitive- absolutely! How- on this utterly retarded planet- can that result be anything but an absolutely resounding success for our manager? Listen to those fans who know something. Ignore the mosquitos. Live long king Rafa, when he leaves at the end of the season, we’ll be stuck with Pardew, Bobbi and Mugpie.

    If I ever end up in that lift, cut the f*****g chord.