Rafa Benitez finds himself in the relegation zone six weeks into the season.

Only five Premier League match gone so far but once you are down there it is imperative you get out as soon as possible, as otherwise every subsequent match becomes so much harder.

West Ham won 3-1 at Everton to climb out of the relegation zone, Newcastle dropping to 19th.

The Hammers had looked really poor so far but when you do invest in your squad, it does have a habit of eventually showing on the pitch.

Three starters yesterday cost West Ham a combined £75m and one of them, winger Yarmalenko, scored two cracking goals, along with last summer’s £20m+ buy Arnautovic getting the other.

As for Rafa Benitez, he felt that longer-term it was unwise to risk £2m loan signing Salomon Rondon, meaning Newcastle had to rely on sub-£7m duo Joselu and Perez up front.

Money doesn’t count for everything but if Newcastle have to rely very much on this pair, then the writing is surely on the wall this season.

Not that they were the only weak links on Saturday but up front, lack of quality is a killer.

Rafa Benitez was impressed with the hard work of his players against Arsenal in the first half and says that the Newcastle fans appreciate that.

However, all the manager can do is give us the keep working harder message and to stay together: ‘It is very clear, we must be Newcastle…UNITED.’

The Gunners were shocking in that first half and any team with half decent quality going forward would have been a couple of goals up, Newcastle aren’t that team.

Both Rafa and the fans desperately need Shelvey, Rondon and Kenedy in the team at Palace on Saturday, none of them world beaters but they are the best Newcastle have in terms of quality in the final third.

We all know that the fixture list has been very unkind but with Palace and Man Utd away, plus Leicester at home, the next three games aren’t exactly guarantees of any points.

The run that took Newcastle to safety in that February to April run, saw Rafa get his best team on the pitch and it hardly changed until staying up was guaranteed. Now he needs to get his new best eleven playing week in week out and see where that takes us.

Tough times on and off the pitch but as usual, the experience and expertise of this manager is the only hope in this situation, of better times ahead.

Rafa Benitez:

“It is very clear.

“We must be Newcastle…UNITED.

“When we are united we are stronger – it is the only way for us.

“The fans realise why we are where we are and so I don’t think the players have to be worried about pressure, as the fans have been really good.

“They’re clever enough to know that the best way possible to go forward is to continue supporting the team.

“If the players work hard like (they did) in the first half then that is something the fans appreciate.

“It is a disappointing when you are so close in some games and you cannot get what you want, but the reality is, we have played four of the top six sides in the league and to be where we are may not be a surprise for a lot of people.

“We know it is difficult but we still have to carry on.

“It is not a question of confidence as you know the other team (Arsenal) is very strong, so with all of the hard work we did in the first half and to concede so early after the break, then to concede the second goal a few minutes later. It’s quite difficult to manage.

“We need to improve managing the game.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2

Goals:

Newcastle: Clark 90+1

Arsenal: Xhaka 49, Ozil 58

Possession was Arsenal 64% Newcastle 36%

Total shots were  Arsenal 12 Newcastle 4

Shots on target were Arsenal 2 Newcastle 2

Corners were  Arsenal 4 Newcastle 10

Referee: Lee Probert

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles (Clark 46), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie (Muto 79), Diame, Hayden, Murphy (Kenedy 69), Perez, Joselu

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Manquillo, Rondon, Shelvey

Crowd: 52,165 (3,200 Arsenal approx)

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

(A third relegation in 10 years on the cards? Read HERE)

(Match ratings of all NUFC players after the defeat – Read HERE)

(Phil Thompson had some strong views on the match – Read HERE)



  • Philippines

    It must be tough finding something to say at this time. I think it was Alex Ferguson who said, “Being a football manager is the greatest job in the World until Saturday”.

  • East Durham Mag

    Oh how it must get to Fatty, in the past the manager would have been turned on and absolutely crucified, but the vast majority of us know who is the architect of the sh*t we find ourselves in and it’s not Rafa it’s all down to the Fat Slug.

  • Billmag

    Rafa as usual did his homework and in that first half he didn’t park the bus he had the team press the gooners higher up the pitch, unfortunately for us we just haven’t got the quality to exploit the situation, I’m with Rafa in not risking Shelvey and Rondon in view of the games coming up and he stands or falls by those decisions.

    • Angelswithdirtyfaces

      If either Hoss or Rondon get injured, or even both which is more than possible… then where are we ?
      I thought Rondon was jet lagged, and we need Shelvey on form for 30 games so the team selection was understandable, Murphy and other squad players need match time when they can get it, otherwise they’re not going to improve anyway

  • JohnnyH

    For me Rafa has shown dignity and honesty, in explaining the situation, maybe being near the end of his contract is allowing him to be more openly critical of fatty.
    Listening to the spineless Pardew, McLaren et al used to make me want to puke.

  • Ron

    I disagree with Rafa and I hate to say that but he says “It is not a question of confidence” well it is – I’m confident that unless Ashley releases a significant amount of money in January then if we aren’t already relegated we soon will be.
    That will reduce the value of the club so it will be hurting Ashleys pocket – a small silver lining is there is one.

    • Vodkamagpie

      And who do you want to buy in January?. How about we buy a skin head, a general, a player that dictates our play in central midfield. How about we buy a experienced premier league striker that can hold up the ball, bring others in play, and score goals. Those players sound very familiar tho!!

      • Ron

        I’d go with Rafa’s judgement, but players who are nearer the top of his list than the bottom.

        • Vodkamagpie

          And buy those players for 50mil, finish around 14th, and end of the season rafa leaves the club because he hasn’t signed a contract. New manager comes in, doesn’t want rafas signings, then we stuck

          • Ron

            Stuck in the PL with better players. If new manager comes in it’ll be carnage anyway you look at it, but at least he’d have a bigger squad with more cover over more positions.

            I agree though it’s heads you lose and tails you don’t win.

            What would you do, and why a skinhead?

          • SuperDesHamilton

            Because from his previous posts he I gather he hates anyone foreign or a different colour. Said des Hamilton was rubbish because of that

          • Ron

            That’s madness – Show Racism the Red Card

          • Damon Horner

            Thinly veiled but he was describing Shelvey (skinhead who dictates play) and Rondon.

          • Ron

            Passed me by! Needs to be less cryptic for me to stand a chance!

            Thanks Damon

          • Vodkamagpie

            Damon is right. Shelvey is our 40mil midfielder, rondon is our 30mil striker.

          • Danimal

            He’d stay if he had been backed, so your scenario doesn’t add up.

          • Vodkamagpie

            Newcastle have spent around 230mil over the last 4.5 seasons, I think that amount is reasonable, and I think that amount is fairly similar to most premier league teams, if not better. Most of you will say that’s not net spent, which is correct, but that means jack. We were fortunate to sell players at high transfer fees, sissoko, wijnaldon, mitrovic etc, which affects the so called important net spend

          • glassjawsh-got-banned

            why is it you doofuses never take NET SPEND into account? because it doesn’t fit your idiotic narrative full of what ifs and maybes?

          • panther

            I need to switch to your dealer

          • Vodkamagpie

            Spent more net spent than Tottenham in the last 4.5 seasons, true or false?

          • panther

            true, but their squad is infinately better, true or false?

          • Vodkamagpie

            So you agree, Newcastle have spent more than Tottenham in the past 4.5 seasons. Tottenham, who are a top 6 team, we spent more than them. Now just let that sink in, we spent more than Tottenham

          • panther

            no, they didnt spend this season, and we made a massive profit

          • Vodkamagpie

            Last 4.5 seasons

          • glassjawsh-got-banned

            so don’t do anything because MAYBE down the line something negative MAY happen?

          • Vodkamagpie

            They spent 230mil odd in the past 4.5 seasons, that’s not doing nothing is it .

          • panther

            and recouped more

          • Vodkamagpie

            No

      • SuperDesHamilton

        You’d love a skinhead you racist

        • X,WHY,Y MAN.

          That old chestnut about all Skin Heads being Racist !

          • SuperDesHamilton

            So what does he mean, a man who likes two-tone playing centre mid you tool😂😂 specific or what

          • Kneebotherm8

            What the deluded half wit means is that this group of players have enough quality to be in the top half of the table if we played a more attacking style of play.
            If we did play a more attacking style with this lot then we’d be rock bottom with a goal difference of minus a cricket score and team confidence totally shot……
            These lot deserve totally clueless McLaren back at the helm……

          • SuperDesHamilton

            Well I can’t disagree with any of that, vodkaclarko just talks wet

          • Kneebotherm8

            One and the same those two…

          • X,WHY,Y MAN.

            Look at your above comment before you throw your childish insults.

            “You’d Love A Skinhead You Racist”, Which implies anyone who is a Skinhead is Racist.

            This used to be a decent blog but now it is populated by the type of cowards you get on “Social Media.”

          • SuperDesHamilton

            Cowards, said you 😂

            Plus you do know you’re on the internet right?

            I’ve got a skinhead so I know it’s not. I’m also not a sad old man who tries to cling on to a dead sub culture either

          • X,WHY,Y MAN.

            What an idiot ?

          • X,WHY,Y MAN.

            Typo but you are a complete idiot !

          • SuperDesHamilton

            Because you can’t get over the fact you’re old?

          • X,WHY,Y MAN.

            Nope, Because I wasn’t even born before Skinheads came into being, So you are wrong again.
            I am just a free thinker who doesn’t make assumptions about people because of what they might be in life.

          • SuperDesHamilton

            That’s absolutely fantastic then. Will we get another response from your riveting reply series next week?

          • X,WHY,Y MAN.

            Is that all you have got ?

          • SuperDesHamilton

            You give me absolutely nothing, nothing at all. You may be the most boring poster on here & that takes some doing.

            Like a human sleeping tablet man

          • X,WHY,Y MAN.

            Coming from you, Glass houses and all that, Ha Ha
            If you were ever circumcised then they threw away the wrong end !

          • SuperDesHamilton

            Took me a while but a see you’re doing a bit comedy or trying. Best of finding your safe space you fat berk

          • X,WHY,Y MAN.

            Oh Dear lol,
            As stimulating as this is, I am going to take my leave from you, But if you do feel the need then keep them coming.

            “Fat Berk”, Really ?
            You like making your assumptions based on nothing more than a computer screen.

            “Best Of Finding Your Safe Place”

            Howay man !, It’s time you chucked it in because you are digging yourself in even further.

            All the best, And I mean that in all honesty.

          • SuperDesHamilton

            I’ve got a feeling you get no love at home probably kicked in to the spare room by the wife, kids hate you & now you have to come on here for the closest thing to interaction with humans you’ll get.

            I’m right and that’s all that matters.

          • X,WHY,Y MAN.

            You have a feeling, But your right ?
            Opinions based solely on a computer screen with nothing to back it up, Yes it must be good gear lol

          • SuperDesHamilton

            I’m right, as usual. Thought you were finished? Can’t help coming back because you love me. I am your world

          • X,WHY,Y MAN.

            Of course, In between sitting in the corner with tin foil wrapped around my head.

          • SuperDesHamilton

            Each to their own.

          • SuperDesHamilton

            And the fact you can’t do anything at all about it is funnier, you victim