Monday night finished Burnley 1 Newcastle 2.

The first away victory of the season sending Rafa’s team four points clear of the bottom three.

It also made it three wins in a row and 10 points from the last four games.

The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game…


Positive Number 1: The Fellowship of the Ring:

There is no doubt that one of the most positive things about all Newcastle teams under Benitez is that they are a unit and that they are together. Whichever player comes in takes up the team ethic quickly and the team seem to genuinely want to work hard for each other. Once the team gets on a roll, they are difficult to stop.

burnley 1 newcastle 2

‘The old 4-1-4 formation’

Last season NUFC got most points during two runs of form, early in the season and after getting knocked out of the FA Cup. This season might be no different and the roll is underway with games against bottom half teams to come. The most positive thing about last night was the fellowship. The bond between players and fans looks to be back.

Positive Number 2: The Two Towers:

Since the injuries to United’s first choice centre half pairing, Schar and Fernandez have been excellent. It does show that at the back at least a manager does not have to spend the millions or pay the millions in wages which some high profile managers demand, they just need to be well-organised, committed and keep mistakes to a minimum. Against Burnley, all three centre backs stood strong and kept mistakes to a minimum. I know Burnley aren’t Barcelona but even so, the men at the back were towers of strength.

Positive Number 3: The Return of the King:

Benitez rarely alters his 4-2-3-1 formation but Monday’s tactics were a masterstroke. His tactics this season have come under scrutiny but on Monday he somehow managed to dominate the wings against a team who play down the wing and all with less players than normal.

Packing the middle made Ki and Diame more solid but that wasn’t where the war was going to be won. Later on Burnley had basically abandoned the middle of the pitch but Newcastle didn’t have the legs or players to capitalise. Again it didn’t matter, the centre backs going toe-to-toe with their forwards was key, having the extra defender in the penalty area was huge.

When Newcastle got the ball, there were always people in the middle to pass to. Rafa’s tactics were spot on, the return of the king of the blackboard.


Negative Number 1: The Phantom Menace:

It seems a bit churlish to be talking negatives when you have beaten one of your relegation rivals in their own backyard but once again Ayoze Perez was completely ineffective. His place in the side is probably safe for now, Muto being injured, but for how long after that.

He needs to toughen up and improve quickly if he wants to stay part of the squad. Against Burnley, Kenedy looked much more dangerous when he received the ball in the centre, looked to attack, and the Brazilian didn’t play anywhere near his potential.

burnley 1 newcastle 2

‘Remember Ayoze: Your focus determines your reality. Leave your hair alone.’

In contrast, Perez’s first thought seems to be always to play the ball back the way it came with no real idea of whether he can turn and run or not. Perez’s only contribution of note was putting Josleu through to miss late on. Presumably, had Joselu scored Ayoze’s fingers would have gone in his ears again.

Perez needs to spend more time on working on his abilities than thinking what he is going to do if ever he is lucky enough to score again. He’s more Phantom than Menace at the moment.

Negative Number 2: Joselu: A Star Wars Story:

While not my favourite player, the point of this is not to bash Joselu too much, all I really want to say is that bringing Joselu on with 20 minutes to go of a game when you are hanging on in my book, means it is either a second round EFL cup game against a league two team or you have the sort of injury crisis which resembles the Battle of the Somme.

Neither is true of NUFC at present, come January competition for Rondon must be forthcoming and Joselu needs to be sidelined because he isn’t up to the job. It’s not his fault, he was a last minute emergency purchase, he should have been replaced in the summer.

burnley 1 newcastle 2

‘Joselu: Count me outta dis one’

An acquaintance of mine said during the Burnley game that Joselu was brought on as a first line of defence but if that is the case then we might as well bring on a defender up front. We can get one of those much cheaper and they might be a better finisher.

You can patch up your roof and hope it lasts a bit longer, they are expensive to replace and it is rare anyone will notice that it is knackered and try to take advantage. If you apply the same rule to your front door you won’t get away with it for long. Joselu is our front door. We need a new one.

Negative Number 3: Attack of the Clowns:

Matt Ritchie played well last night. He’s one player I wouldn’t want replacing Joselu up front though.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Burnley 1 Newcastle 2


Newcastle: Fernandez (Mee own goal?) 4, Clark 23

Burnley: Vokes 40

Possession was Burnley 56% Newcastle 44%

Total shots were  Burnley 14 Newcastle 17

Shots on target were Burnley 4 Newcastle 3

Corners were  Burnley 5 Newcastle 5

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie, Diame, Ki, Kenedy (Hayden 90), Rondon (Joselu 71), Perez

Unused Subs:

Woodman, Manquillo, Shelvey, Murphy, Atsu

Crowd: 20,628 (Newcastle 2,400)

(The instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the win HERE)

(Read the match report HERE)

(Sean Dyche puts defeat down to ‘lucky’ and ‘poor’ goals – Read HERE)

(After NUFC win, Danny Mills sees problems ahead for Burnley AND Newcastle fans – Rad HERE)

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  • Wezza

    Positives: We won, Rafa’s tactics.
    Negatives: Perez, FCB will be laughing all the way to the bank.


    • Themoscow72

      Support Rafa and the team against Wolves. Yes the protesters would love to ban genuine supporters because that is on your agenda.

  • steve

    Since Diame seems to be untouchable at the moment and Perez is worse than being a man down I’d like to see Shelvey given a game at number 10, less defensive responsibility and a chance to play the ball forward.

    • molend

      Not sure I agree there. He would need quicker feet and he wouldn’t have nearly as much time on the ball as he seems to need. I’m all for giving players a chance in a new position, but I think a coach as experienced as Rafa would have spotted it before now

  • Kenny

    Rafa has been trying to replace Perez for 2 years the fact that he is on the pitch says it all in a p1ss poor squad,
    the Hoss & Slomo also need replacing but it`s the same old story,
    Ashley won`t spend and has no intention of spending.
    If Rafa leaves we will go down.

  • Wor Lass

    Very amusing, Ben. I thought “the two towers” played very well – their ball retention and distribution was excellent. However, Voakes was a constant threat in the air which, I think, Jamaal would have dealt with. That`s going to be a difficult decision for Rafa once he`s fit. I`d give the return to form of Diame as a positive as well. He still makes the odd mistake in his use of the ball (like with Tiote, I cringe when he has time to think) but his coverage of the turf (moor!), his pressing and tackling was tremendous again. Not quite where it got to last season but heading there. This has coincided with the emergence of Ki and that gives Rafa another welcome problem now that Jonjo seems to be fit again. Maybe the Perez haters will get their wish?

    • Kenny

      I don`t hate Perez i just think he`s not good enough, he has the technical ability but can`t back it up at this level

  • Leazes.

    Problem in using Burnley as a ‘gold standard’ to measure the clubs ability to cope is that Burnley is made out of black pudding and not the malleable, and ductile valuable metal.

    …. this is what is so infuriating about the way the chronicle misrepresent honest appraisal, they are too keen to do the clubs spin, that they themselves are spinning between apportioning blame for defeats and bigging up after victories….

    ….The club still has the seventeenth most valuable squad with the seventeenth highest wage bill…. and a bus which protects (mostly) the centre backs.