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Opinion

Defining moment today as Rafa Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles plant the flag

5 months ago
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Jamaal Lascelles and Rafa Benitez have been working overtime these past 48 hours.

In a previous interview the Newcastle manager had revealed that he and his staff were doing 12 hour days, 7.30am to 7.30pm, as they tried to turn around the situation.

This week I think they have ended up doing the nightshift as well.

#NiceGuyGate could turn out to be a defining moment of the season.

Jamaal Lascelles saying Mike Ashley came over as a ‘Nice Guy’ when they shared a pizza, ending up dominating the media, especially social media.

In truth, I think most Newcastle fans had begun to accept that we were heading towards a slow and quiet relegation.

Not good enough to score goals and win games, not bad enough to concede loads of goals and spectacularly lose all the matches.

The quality is clearly not there in this team, not enough of it anyway.

Apart from Huddersfield and Cardiff possibly/probably, no other first team is as weak as Newcastle’s on paper, or indeed on the pitch, at the minute.

As for the squad, god knows what state we would end up in with a few injuries to key players.

Last season we saw between February and April the team becoming far better than the 11 individuals. Fire in their bellies and some inspirational play coming to the fore, as the team started to be a bit more expansive, to press more, and beat teams such as Man Utd, Leicester and Arsenal.

Up until that run that took Rafa’s team to early safety, Newcastle had only gathered wins from fellow strugglers – West Ham (x2), Stoke (x2), Swansea, Palace.

So far Newcastle have failed to beat everybody, from Man City and Chelsea at the top, to Cardiff and Southampton at the bottom.

Today though against Watford looks a defining match of the season, I’m not going to say it is a must win and if Newcastle don’t do so then it is certain relegation, but that could turn out to be the reality.

However it has come about, for me the last couple of days has ended up with Jamaal Lascelles and Rafa Benitez planting the flag.

Now it is up to the players and fans to rally around that.

For me there is no doubt that the players will run out against Watford with far more purpose and intent than we have seen so far this season.

One of the Watford players has said he thinks the first 20 to 25 minutes will be crucial and I think he is right.

Rafa must be sending the players out today to try and press from the first second and to do so until they get that first goal, then redouble those efforts with the fans now roused from their comatose states due to the season so far.

If it still goes wrong today then it still goes wrong – but at least everybody will have tried their best to make things change.

It will then be so much harder then to do but next week against Bournemouth we will all have to try again.

Bottom line though I think is that really it has to happen today, we have to rally around that flag and make it happen.
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