Robbie Savage has been assessing Newcastle United.

The former player looking at the job Rafa Benitez is doing in the most trying of circumstances.

The season has started with four 2-1 defeats to clubs who finished top six last season, a 0-0 draw at Cardiff producing the only point so far.

Despite this, Robbie Savage says that Rafa Benitez is a ‘fantastic manager’ who could/should be still managing one of those top six clubs.

Reflecting on Newcastle ending up top half last season, Savage thinks it was ‘incredible’ when you consider it was done ‘without investment’ of any credible kind.

Whilst as for this season after Mike Ashley insisted on a £20m+ profit in the summer transfer market, the player turned pundit declares that now 17th with this current squad wold also be an ‘incredible achievement’…difficult to take but hard to argue.

Yet another ‘incredible’ waste of a golden opportunity by Mike Ashley.

Robbie Savage talking to BBC Radio 5 Live:

“I would have been surprised if Newcastle had nicked a draw (against Arsenal).

“They do look like they are playing quite negatively but Rafa Benitez is a fantastic manager.

“He could still manage a top six side.

“But look at that (Newcastle) squad…

“To finish tenth last season without investment was an incredible achievement and if he finishes seventeenth this year with that side…I think it’s (also) an incredible achievement.

“I see an organised team.

“Where Rafa will look at his players and look at who he is playing against.

“Against Chelsea only 19% possession and nearly nicked a draw, then against Arsenal they were a bit more positive going forward.

“Newcastle’s goal came from one centre-half crossing for another.

“Newcastle just went for it in the final ten to fifteen minutes.”



  • Kenny

    Rafa has no choice with the players available he has the team holding the line then going for it in the last quarter, it hasnt paid off yet because of injuries but it will,
    he has a harder job this season than last, if we do survive it will be a miracle

  • mactoon

    I find it hard to gauge how well we will do based on results from the horrific opening fixtures the sooper compooter has dealt us this season and I think pundits like savage may be falling into that trap. The first bunch of fixtures involved Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Man City, and playing defensively, we lost every one 2-1 which I think will give us a better goal difference than other teams who will go gung ho and try to beat them.

    If we aren’t as cautious against teams who finished outside the top 5 last year I think we will be ok. And if we are around the bottom of the league come the January transfer window I have no doubt funds will miraculously be found by Ashley to preserve the club’s Premiership status (and SD advertising!)

    I only hope Rafa isn’t going to play defensively from now until January in order to prove his point that he doesn’t have the players to compete. Otherwise we will be in real trouble.

    • Ron

      Rafa might not have choice, he can only pick from who is fit and available at the time. The woefully small group of fit players can end up picking itself.

      • mactoon

        With Shelvey, Rondon and Kenedy on the bench and available I would be tempted to say the team would have been stronger with them in the starting line up so you could lay that criticism at Rafa’s feet.

        But my main point is the likes of Savage claiming we are doomed and basing that opinion on the opening games involving Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Man City are being a bit premature to say the least.

        (It would have been quicker if I had said that the first time 😊)

        • Ron

          I agree with you; however, I couldn’t understand Shelvey and Rondon being on the bench, I didn’t think they were ready or he’d surely have started them. Longstaff at least should have been there.

          I honestly think, and I’ve often been wrong, that they were there to create a tension in the opposition camp, if that possible against Arsenal. A bit of mind game I suppose.

          Like you I think we are where we I thought we’d be after these games except I’d hoped for 2 more points against Cardiff.

          Did you hear the rumour that the season doesn’t end in September this year?

          • mactoon

            Somebody should tell Savage that

  • Down Under Mag

    To be honest, given the start and the teams we’ve played, the fact we are only -4 GD and have stills cored 4 goals of our own, only conceding 8 is pretty good. We are a penalty miss away from a decent start. We were always going to be up against it with the fixture list dealing us a harsh start. That has gone. But it down to bad luck, an exercise in damage limitation and trying to find something to gel out of a squad of players put together on the cheap.

    How we go in the next few games will be more important. Hopefully Rondon gets his fitness up and gets his goalscoring boots on, Kenedy finds whatever has been missing so far and Shelvey gets fit and takes his place as our creative force in midfield. The hardest part for everyone, fans, players, manager alike, is to get up for the games. The atmosphere surrounding the club is bordering on toxic thanks once again to Ashley and his complete mismanagement of the club. It’s getting harder for the fans to find their positive voices when everything around them is going against that feeling and no matter what we think as fans about the players having to be professional and do the job because of pride, money and whatever other things we feel they should take into game, the reality is they know the manager is likely to leave at the end of the season, they know if the club get relegated they will probably be sold off and it’s got to give them a tough motivational outlook.

    Rafa may not be helping himself in some fans eyes, BUT he is doing the best with what is available. People see the likes of Mitro scoring and ask why we sold him, but in order to accomodate him we would have been conceding more goals…the end result in games would have been the same… There is a feeling that the whole Rafa staying and Ashley clearly wanting him gone (or to sign another binding contract with no guarantees of financial backing) is hurting the club right now and everything feels like it is in a holding pattern. It’s harsh reality of where we are but hopefully we can get 3 points at the weekend and start and lift the clouds, even just a little.

  • HarryHype59

    Kenedy’s form was a major factor in last season’s post Christmas improvement! So far this season he has been woeful. He looks like he doesn’t want to be here. Unless Rafa can get him back to his best, I don’t see us getting out of the bottom three.

  • geordiejay1983

    Savage your a nobody. And of course rafa could manage top teams who couldnt. My mam could manage man city