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What is Rafa Benitez doing? Why can’t he see that all he needed to do was…

2 years ago
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Rafa Benitez, what’s he playing at?

‘The players he has been leaving out…’

‘As for the tactics and formation, come on man, surely it is obvious…’

Newcastle United with two points from seven games and some of the spotlight turned on the manager.

Quite rightly, you do have to look at the actions of your manager, no matter what other nonsense is going on.

When Newcastle fans are in the pub or online, having their own opinion about decisions made by Rafa Benitez is at the heart of what it’s all about being a football supporter.

It doesn’t make you disloyal, or a traitor to the cause, if you think Rafa shouldn’t have taken Ritchie off, or played Muto from the start, or played 3-5-2, 4-3-3, 1-2-7, or whatever.

However, it is all about keeping perspective.

The media are always going to pick up on the 1% of attention seekers, trying to make out as though this mess at Newcastle United is somehow largely to do with Rafa’s team selection and tactics, rather than pretty much all being down to Mike Ashley.

Maybe if the Newcastle manager had done this and that differently, NUFC might have a point or two more this season, or just as (more?) likely, they would have had no points at all.

The truth is, Newcastle have a very poor team and the squad is even worse.

The only two matches this season that I think Newcastle fans should be expecting their team to automatically win, are Cardiff and Huddersfield at home. It doesn’t mean NUFC will necessarily beat them but they are the only two clubs that have probably got a weaker first eleven than what Rafa has available to him.

Look at Leicester yesterday, honestly, which Newcastle players would get in their team?

I reckon Jamaal Lascelles, better (and younger) than Morgan.

Dubravka and Shelvey are good but Schmeichel and Maddison are better.

Every game, Newcastle have such poor options going forward and the team is so weak overall, Rafa Benitez has to concentrate on making the defensive side as tight as possible, if the side are to have any chance of even picking up a point.

Joselu and Perez are hopeless, they wouldn’t stand any chance of getting in any other Premier League team.

They are the Reillys, Cunninghams, Shintons, Whitehursts (ask your dad) of this generation.

A couple of decent players up front can paper over a lot of cracks, finish the one chance that comes up etc etc.

However, having this pair up front makes it all but impossible for the rest of the team (particularly Shelvey) even if we had an ok side.

With zero pace or ability to beat their man, they are a liability.

Salomon Rondon isn’t great, 24 goals in three full Premier League seasons tells you that.

However, his injury/fitness problems have even taken away this raffle ticket from Rafa Benitez, the fact he was forced to give up Gayle to even just get Rondon is all you need to know about Mike Ashley’s ridiculous approach to the summer transfer window.

Just look at the bench yesterday…Darlow, Manquillo, Murphy, Hayden, Schar are all Championship players, Longstaff a totally untried kid, whilst Muto has done nothing so far to suggest he is the answer.

This is Rafa Benitez’ understrength squad, both in terms of numbers and quality.

I would have played Yoshinori Muto yesterday, not because I think Rafa is wrong and not because I think he would have been great, simply because I’m sick and tired of watching Joselu and Perez. At least I can kid myself Muto may come good, I’ve seen more than enough of the other two to know they aren’t good enough.

There is so little pace in the team, Rafa Benitez simply knows they would be pulled apart by any decent team if continuously pressing high/committing numbers forward, against any half decent team, of which Leicester are one.

I find it laughable that some Newcastle fans talk about Leicester as one of those teams we should be beating, when they are on a whole different level when it comes to quality of their team and squad, as well as money spent on them.

By my reckoning, at a bare minimum there should have been at least £80m+ spent on this squad since promotion, and that would be just to try and create a squad that should be expected to just about stay up. Realistically giving us a team and squad that were stronger than four or five of the current Premier League clubs.

As it happens, I don’t think Rafa Benitez is one of the best managers in the Premier League, I think it is daft to think he is better than Guardiola, Sarri, Klopp and some others.

However, he is closer to the top than the bottom, unlike the state of the squad that has been foisted on him by Mike Ashley.

Newcastle fans are so passionate about their manager because he has got a very good CV, knows what he is doing, and is capable of improving all aspects of the club, including the first team on the pitch. They especially love him because he has taken on a challenge, and is sticking with it, when pretty much anybody else would ave told Mike Ashley where to stick it, and moved on to a better project where he’d be appreciated and backed.
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