The pre-match discussion was kicked off by Bruno, the Brighton Captain.
Ahead of Saturday’s match he said that he expected Newcastle United to ‘start the game very fast’ and Brighton had to cope with that.
Sure enough Newcastle did press early and only a few minutes into the game it should have paid dividends.
Jonjo Shelvey catching a Brighton defender in possession on the edge of the box and Ayoze Perez wasting what would prove to be Newcastle’s best chance of the match.
Bruno went on to say, in his pre-match comments, that if Brighton could hold out and frustrate the home side, then the Newcastle fans could turn on the team.
Bruno – 16 October 2018:
“Newcastle are going to start the game very fast and we have to try to control the pace.
“Their fans will be behind them, but if they don’t play well, they’re going to be on them.
“Their intensity could be really high, but if we start well, the fans could turn and it’s always tough to play without that confidence. We can take advantage of that.”
At his pre-match press conference on Friday, Rafa Benitez responded to the claims from Bruno.
Rafa Benitez – 19 October 2018:
“Bruno was saying that the fans will be on top of the players if something is wrong.
“Our fans are very clever and they know this team cares and they are working really hard. One of our strengths is our fans. If they see something wrong they will still support the team.
“I am sure at the end of the game and end of the season everyone will be happy.”
Maybe best if we don’t take too much notice of the everybody being happy at the end of season comment just now…but what about the Newcastle fans?
Brighton newspaper The Argus giving post-match merit marks (The Brighton keeper and back four received all the highest marks):
‘BRUNO 8: Lots of composure and some important tackles and positional play. And he was right about the crowd too.’
It is a fact that most of the time the atmosphere at St James Park is pretty dismal these days.
Little wonder really when we have had any enthusiasm and expectation, not to mention hope, drained from us by Mike Ashley.
Then the football doesn’t actually help either.
Newcastle played well up to a point against Brighton but yet again there is next to nothing to get fans on the edge of their seats, never mind off them.
With only maybe Kenedy actually capable of running at the opposition, and a lot of the time that ends up being sideways, Newcastle’s budget team doesn’t have any real star quality in attacking areas. Rafa’s preferred patient build up, necessary maybe because of the low quality of players available, hardly helps to get the crowd whipped up into even any kind of a mild frenzy.
However, this doesn’t add up to the Newcastle fans turning on either the team or the manager on Saturday.
The decision to take off Muto not Perez was booed with 16 minutes to go, whilst the final whistle brought more boos, though this appeared simply as a reaction to the state of the club overall under Mike Ashley, with the poor quality of the team a key part of that unhappiness due to lack of investment.
Overall though, I can’t imagine any set of fans being so restrained in these circumstances, their team losing to one of the worst opposition side’s we’ve seen for a long time at St James Park and also dropping to the very bottom of the table.
Then of course we have Mike Ashley.
Brighton won the match on Saturday but maybe between Bruno and Rafa Benitez it was a draw when it came to predictions of how Newcastle fans would react.
Where the next win is coming from for Rafa, the players and the fans, is a question that none of can confidently answer/predict.