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I still can’t believe what Paul Merson has just said about Rafa Benitez, Joselu and Salomon Rondon

3 years ago

Paul Merson has a knack of surprising you.

The former Arsenal and Middlesbrough player isn’t usually very clued up but sometimes he takes it to pretty impressive lengths.

In today’s society where stupidity is often celebrated in the proliferation of reality TV shows and elsewhere, you could just see Paul Merson fitting in perfectly on Big Brother.

Nothing expected apart from talking complete nonsense without any thought going into it.

When your job is talking about Premier League football clubs every week, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Before you speak at any particular time then you just need to spend a few minutes researching what has happened with any particular club that you know nothing about, which in Merson’s case often appears to be around the 20 (club) mark.

Today though he has taken it to a whole new level.

Paul Merson declaring ‘Rafa Benitez has taken a bit of time – sometimes he looks like he is chopping his hands off to spite his face…’

Never mind where he has got the ‘chopping his hands off’ metaphor from, what he is actually referring to is that Rafa has at last started playing Salomon Rondon rather than Joselu (‘they needed a focal point, they were too weak, the ball was bouncing back too quick off Joselu, whereas this lad….’).

Well yes, Rondon has come in and started the last two matches and Newcastle have beaten Watford and Bournemouth, but the Venezuelan striker had been out injured. He got 20 minutes at Southampton as a sub and then was thrown in against Watford as a desperate move by Rafa really, as he looked nowhere near match fit and was actually, as a consequence, pretty poor. He ended up playing the full 90 minutes only because injuries meant all three subs were used by the 52nd minute.

As for that Joselu who Rafa was selecting ahead of Rondon…

Well, actually he hasn’t started a game for eight weeks, the 2-0 defeat by Leicester. Whilst even as a sub, in these past eight weeks he has only had 16 minutes against Brighton and two minutes at Man Utd. Even when Rondon was knackered, Joselu was still not getting a game!

For what it is worth, Paul Merson thinks it will be a 1-1 draw after his careful research…

Paul Merson speaking to Sky Sports:

“This is a big match.

“Newcastle have done great to win back-to-back games in the Premier League, which is a hard thing to do for the teams in the bottom half. And you then help yourselves by moving away from trouble.

“However, I worry for Burnley – I never saw them getting beat fours and fives before, there are ways of getting beat. And something is missing, I’m not sure what it is, but they are so open at the back and sooner or later you have to draw a line and say, ‘Right, we need to become hard to beat again.’

“I think teams get into the situation where they go and get well beat by one of the big sides and then they say, ‘Right, we have to go out today and really put in a performance and win this game.’ And then they end up getting beat again.

“So you need to draw a line and say, ‘We start again now and let’s get back to the old Burnley and be hard to beat.’ And if we do get beat, we get beat by the odd goal.’

“Sean Dyche would take a 1-0 win here and he would be more than delighted with that as he would know his team will be hard to beat again.

“I think teams at the bottom get in this cycle where they always think they must win their next game, then they get beat again and it is relentless, the Premier League, game after game.

“But I think Newcastle will get something out of this game and if somebody said to me, ‘get off the fence,’ then I would go for Newcastle.

“They have the momentum and they have not been a million miles away, the penny has dropped and he has put Salomon Rondon in – they needed a focal point, they were too weak, the ball was bouncing back too quick off Joselu, whereas this lad….

“What a header against Bournemouth!

“You cannot tell me that was not like Malcolm Macdonald or Alan Shearer, brave, put himself across the defender, no one was saving that.

“Rafa Benitez has taken a bit of time – sometimes he looks like he is chopping his hands off to spite his face…

“Prediction is Burnley 1 Newcastle 1.”


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