We asked the question on Sunday evening – Was Rafa Benitez right to use those tactics with players available and opposition quality?

The final score was Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2, all three goals coming in the final 15 minutes.

Simply focusing on the goals that were scored, you could say Newcastle were very unlucky to lose.

An excellent Joselu header from Yedlin’s quality cross, whilst Chelsea won thanks to a Yedlin own goal and a penalty that should never have been given.

However, 19% possession in a home game is a tough watch.

Rafa Benitez was left with very limited options in terms of players available but did he do the right thing going so negative?

So the question – Was Rafa Benitez right to use those tactics with players available and opposition quality?

We all know Mike Ashley is by far the biggest reason why we are in this position but we were just interested in whether fans think these tactics were the right way to go.

The votes are now counted and thanks to everybody who took the time, so did Newcastle fans think they were the right tactics?:

Yes 62%

No 38%

So pretty much a 3 v 2 divide amongst Newcastle fans, agreeing with the tactics.

I can’t believe for one second that Rafa himself is happy doing what he did but felt he had no alternative, with the situation he found himself in.

Whether I agree or disagree with anything that he does, I do really like the fact that our manager does what he thinks is right for the team/club, no matter what anybody else says, particularly the ‘experts’….

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2


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)

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

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

  • Geordiegiants

    He is a successful manger, I hated watching those tactics the same as everyone else, but he does what he feels is best over the season and is always right in the long term.

    • Kenny

      Wonder how Mitros getting on 😂😁😂

      • Geordiegiants

        Hes got one more than the Hoss now.

        • NUFCLX

          Good result for Fulham yesterday, 30 mil midfielder scored as did their 22 mil CF, as did their 15 mil rated striker. Amazing what can happen when a manager gets the players he wants.

          • ghostrider

            Yeah. Don’t forget we had that 22 million player.
            Amazing when a manager throws away 22 million players then moans.

          • Ram Kishore

            We did but we didn’t have Schurle, Vietto, Seri and we didn’t play against Burnley.. Just pointing out the unbalanced comparison

          • ghostrider

            No, we didn’t play against Burnley but don’t forget that last season Burnley were one of the most miserly in terms of conceding and is the reason why they finished 7th.

          • Ram Kishore

            It’s only this game ghost and he isnt going to play like this all the weeks..Didn’t we have proper go against Spurs ? We did .. when was the last time u saw us play with Back five .. Man city? Last season ..After that none.. even when we played against liverpool we attacked a bit but lost by two goals..

          • ghostrider

            I know we don’t always play that way but the majority of times we do go far too negative and we should certainly not be doing it at home…against anyone.

          • NUFCLX

            But it would be nice if we replaced him with a 22 mil striker, then we could judge Rafa. I realise if we had done that Fatman would have been devastated as we would have made a 2 mil loss during the window.

          • ghostrider

            How about we just kept him and played to his strengths like Fulham do.

    • Wor Lass

      Looks like jamie Redknapp`s turning into as big a bumhole as his old man.

      • Ram Kishore

        For a neutral it would have been very hard to watch it IMO.. if you are not a Nufc fan it would obviously be an unattractive game to watch.. A game like the one we played against Manchester united would be attractive for any neutral ..

        • Wor Lass

          I agre with what you say but I was talking about his refusal to acknowledge that Rafa has been badly let down by Ashley. He couldn`t even accept that Wolves have spent more than us. He`s definitely got an anti-Rafa agenda.

  • Kenny

    He had no option with the players available

  • Wor Lass

    Whether or not Rafa should set up like that is arguable but what isn`t is the magnificent effort and commitment by the players. With 5 changes and our two most influential players missing the lads blended well, concentrated superbly and carried out the manager`s instructions almost to perfection. Chelsea were the better team but were lucky to get the win in the end. It`s a shame that Mike`s mates – the Liverpool mafia – on Sky had to stick the knife in on Rafa afterwards, aided and abetted by Shola. At least the presenter (can`t remember his name) referred to the lack of spending – Chelsea having spent more than our record signing 34 times!

    • gold coast mag

      I watched the extended 25 minutes highlights here in Oz- work commitments- and was pleased they included a 10 second grab of the Ashley out flags- way to go lads!!

  • East Durham Mag

    Regardless of the criticism from certain elements of the media who obviously dislike Rafa and certain elements on here who are thick, what choices did Rafa have? 1) Go out and try to match Chelsea, City, Liverpool etc and get a massive negative goal difference?
    2) Try to keep the goal difference down by parking the bus?
    Bit of a no brainer really isn’t it unless your an idiot, cue the hoop lickers.

  • Leazes.

    The average Chelsea player is valued at around £30m, this compares to our £5m (Fifth lowest in the league still).

    Take out of that equation Lascelles and Shelvey and that is the scale of the task.

    Nobody remembers when Rafa last played with five at the back…. where did the Sky money go?

    • kingfisher

      Spot on Leazes 👍👏

  • Keeganontherebound

    It wasn’t pretty to watch but Benitez is one of the best coaches in the world and he is a winner. You can’t expect him to just send out a team to ‘have a go’ and get taken apart by far superior players. He’s playing the percentages – yes, we lost but were very unlucky to not get a point. If we’d played a more open game we’d almost certainly have been beaten by a few goals. Then not only do you have no points but losing 3 or 4 nil has an effect on morale going into the next game. An unlucky defeat to one of the best teams in the world will make the players feel that at least they are competitive. Remember Rafa took over a team in freefall and has actually made a profit in the transfer market since then. We all know what the real problem is and it’s not the manager’s tactics.

    • Brent Jackson

      Correct, Arsenal ‘Had a go’ at Chelski with far superior players, How’d that go? Man I’m sick of armchair managers who think they know football and our squad better than Rafa..deluded fuckwits entitled to their stupid opinions.

  • kingfisher

    Comment taken from another website: “There’s no responsibility for teams to entertain or satisfy anyone, be they supporters or pundits, but Sunday’s display made for tough viewing at times”

    Football is an entertainment business and fans need to be entertained. They need to be on the edge of their seats and enjoy the game.
    The only reason Rafa employs these tactics is because Ashley broke his promises (again) and did’nt give him the required amount of funds to be competitive.

    If he continues with similar tactics, i.e a boring, non competitive defensive display, then what is the point of it all? No excitement,no hope, no dreams, no ambition.

    You can say a lot of bad things about the Championship but at least there was excitement and we went into most games knowing we could win and the hope was there that we could get promoted, not like the Prem when we are struggling to survive.As I say, what’s the point ! THANKS MIKE

    • Leazes.

      Football is a sport which was turned into an entertainment by TV…. first and foremost it is about winning…… you aren’t going to entertain people with the quality of the players that Ashley sanctions.

      Showboating is for the clubs who have the luxury of ‘overkill’ in their squads…. there are four in our league….Chelsea, the two Manchester clubs, and Liverpool.

      The premiership is two divisions and this is where we are until a new owner arrives…..

      ….’Why should Ashley let the club spend its own money’ when he’s a Chelsea fan, and can damage it at will whilst securing his advertising?

  • Lockietoon

    What is Rafa to do when the squad simply isn’t good enough due to lack of investment by our unscrupulous owner? The quality of players is just embarrassing and the fact Rafa has to work with one of the worst squads in the league and get the best out of them should simply be applauded for his achievements. If we don’t get relegated this season it will be down to one man knowing the squads limitations and working towards the simple goal of survival by any means possible. So anyone expecting anything more is dillusional.

    • James B

      Take Rafa’s d!ck out of your mouth. The worship is beyond ridiculous at times. Let me guess the Cardiff last week was Ashley’s fault too right?

  • TheFatController

    I think the error most people make is that, by ‘having a go’, you can ‘get at these mentally week overpaid prima Donna big fee’ footballers who fold like a pack of cards at the first sign of not getting it their own way.

    However, what usually happens is these top players can soak it up, expose the space left on the break, finish clinically and have a really good time and get up a head of steam.

    What they don’t want is a team with very good defenders ( because you can get them cheap) but less effective strikers ( because they cost money) parking the bus. It ruins their fun.

    Yet the pundits, who apparently know football, suggest Rafa indulge the Chelsea front players by giving them plenty of room to indulge themselves doing what they do best – passing at pace and finishing incisively.

    It’s not Hazard’s Birthday party, so why is Rafa expected to play right into chelsea’s hands? Because it makes good tv viewing?

    If you know Rafa has to stop Chelsea playing, why televise it? Did Rafa force them to cover it?

    • fistsofsteel2

      eee is that right? So how did Brighton beat Man U last week…….when the Man Utd team on the pitch was worth almost 8x the Brighton team? How come Wolves gave Man City a hell of a game too, and were unlucky not to get a point?

      • East Durham Mag

        Another Ashley/Bishop minion?

      • TheFatController

        So, you disprove my point with referencing two games, which is a robust sample given there are 10 games per week in the PL I think we can all agree?

        So the wolves team that got their goal from an offside handball while City hit the woodwork three times?

        You’ve referenced two games, one where the big team were off the boil, the other whet the big team were so off the boil it was alarming to their fans and yet lost only by one goal?

        And also, the two teams that won backed their managers this summer, spending way over what they brought in.

        You also forget they Rafa also engineered a similar win over man utd only months ago. This game yesterday he had arguably his 4 of his best players in that man utd game missing.

        You can always point out teams that have a go and nearly cause and upset, but if that’s the case, how come Chelsea, City and United will be, as usual, near the top with massive positive goal differences?

        When you explain how they manage that over 38 game seasons, and don’t reference two games where the results had nothing to do with ‘having a go’ and everything to do with poor performance by the big team or referee, you’ll have made your case much more robustly and empirically.

      • Oldgeordie

        I think you will find Wolves did get a point playing with the exact formation we did yesterday.

      • Ram Kishore

        I think we also played well against Spurs and we did beat Manchester united last season.. we were missing our best players ..i know yesterday was a day to forget but just think how bad Manchester united would play if they don’t have pogba.. Mou would be crying.. even with all the players he has at his disposal

      • Brent Jackson

        Wolves? PFT! Don’t defend too deep, hope they hit the woodwork several times, foul in the box without conceding a pen and score with an offside handball. yeah lets do that at City.

    • Leazes.

      Absolutely, but I wouldn’t call top players prima donnas…..

      ….. remember that Ferguson always harangued referees to protect his players and they always had that gang mentality if lesser clubs tried to rough them up a bit, when you think about it….its fair enough….its supposed to be the beautiful game not a martial art…..

      …..what Rafa does is absorb the punishment in the hope that the opposition tire an have a momentary lapse of concentration…. its not pretty but its like Buster Keaton taking on Muhammad Ali…. just hoping he doesn’t get clobbered then dives through his legs and kicks him up the backside.

  • Vodkamagpie

    There is a possibility of one of two things to happen before the arsenal game. Rafa will sign a new contract, or there will be a new manager for the arsenal game. Ashley might see this as an opportunity

    • East Durham Mag

      Go away Troll.

    • magpiefifer
    • Big Al 1967

      The one thing that will not happen is the FCB giving Rafa the bullet and that is for one reason only…It will cost him MONEY to do so. That is all the FCB is interested in.
      Let us not forget when Pardew went on his many awful runs of results he refused to sack him even though there was intense pressure to do so as it would cost him a years worth of salary.However Palace come knocking offering compo and he could not help him out the door quick enough.

      • Vodkamagpie

        How much would it cost for rafa to go, 5mil. How much would we have to spend in the January transfer window to please rafa, 20mil. If we lose against man city, won’t it be 1 win, 1 draw, 7 loses in last 9 games

        • Big Al 1967

          So the club has made a 25 million pound profit in the last window and you don’t think that money should be used in January to strengthen the squad?? Instead lets give Rafa the bullet?? And bring in whom exactly? Name me a world class coach who is A) Available and B) Work for an owner who fails to fulfil any of his promises
          With the exception of the Bishop PR boys word is now out nationally about the regime and any half decent manager will not touch it with a bargepole. When Rafa walks at the end of the season expect a desperate ‘Yes’ man to replace him.
          And lets ignore the 4 straight wins before the last 9 when something was at stake

          • Vodkamagpie

            Rafa is absolutely a world class manager, no denying that. Having a world class manager is quite remarkable really, normal clubs don’t get that opportunity. However, rafa, belongs to a big team, or at least a so called big team throwing huge amounts of money in for chasing the dream. Does Newcastle United need a world class manager?, or do we need change?

          • Big Al 1967

            Could not agree more, we do need a change and he sits at his trough at Sports Direct HQ

  • Leicester Mag

    In my blackest moment I wonder what is the elfin point. Whatever the tactics the reality is survival will see the cloth cut ever thinner. Maybe football is a results game but this is not the psyche of generations of Newcastle fans. Newcastle have always been associated with attacking football. Is this a dig at Rafa? No he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. At full strength we are miles behind the top 6, with 3 or 4 players missing we are little more than a well drilled championship side. Hard to think of another club with a target of mediocrity. Like a macabre sick joke a patient on life support each season something else taken away.

  • magpiefifer

    Rafa has once again come in for much criticism from pundits/supporters etc for his defensive approach,but what is he supposed to do!? No,his strategy is not great to watch,but when you look at the quality of the squad it’s not totally surprising!
    The Wolves team format against Man City on Saturday was not dissimilar,BUT they had better quality players,especially in midfield with the likes of Moutinho and Neves, that they were able to be very effective against a side which – on paper – was so much better.Why was that!? Unlike Ashley,the Wolves ownership have improved their squad with some quality additions, spending circa £90m in the process.
    On this season’s evidence so far (yes,I know it’s only 3 matches!),we will not only struggle against the top 6, we’ll do well to get much out of games against Wolves,Fulham,Brighton etc.
    Ashley to get a hat-trick – of relegations!?

  • Spoon_Army

    You can’t make a silk purse out of a pigs ear. Rafa does what he thinks is needed to try and salvage something. His view on how to win games is such that it is not a pretty to watch, and, there will be no improvement on last season, so, if it works, we have a decent chance of finishing 4th bottom or above. No complaints from me, because when he leaves, we are in real trouble.