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Rafa Benitez answers on player availability, getting the first win and Jamaal Lascelles ‘Nice guy’ comments

9 months ago
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Rafa Benitez has met the media ahead of the Watford match.

The pressure really on as United face an in-form seventh placed team.

Rafa confirmed Ciaran Clark had suffered from an illness and wasn’t ready to return yet, this means he joins Jamie Sterry and Florian Lejeune on the sidelines.

The manager once again talking about the importance of getting a first win of the season and everything flowing from that, if they don’t beat Watford, the manager says just a case of carrying on.

The questions on Jamaal Lascelles comments were predictable and Rafa Benitez suggested that maybe the NUFC captain had been a little bit naive in his answers, giving the media a field day. Rafa insisting that Lascelles was only commenting on meeting somebody for the first time at a meal, not commenting on these last 11 years of Mike Ashley owning the club.

Rafa Benitez:

“Against Brighton, we had 27 shots, 41 crosses and ten corners, but we did not score and we lost.

“It’s something you have to analyse carefully.

“In the final third, our decision-making has to be better – that’s something we know and will try to improve.

“We have the belief, and we are convinced that if we win the first one, everything will be different – it will be another mood, with more confidence.

“I was reading that this is their (Watford’s) best start in 35 years. That is good news for them. Javi Gracia is a good coach.

“They have confidence – and it is always more difficult when a team has confidence – but we will do our best.

‘We have to be positive. The teams in the bottom 3 at this stage last season weren’t there at the end of the season.

“I was not happy with the performance (at Southampton) but I was happy with the point, we are very close to getting that first win.

“If we win our first game then everything will be different.

“Is it a must win?

“I am confident we can do it this week but if we don’t…what can we do?

“We will keep on going.”

Rafa Benitez on players available:

“Clark is fine (after being ill). He was not in the squad (at Southampton) but has trained for the last two days (but still isn’t ready to return).

“Lejeune has done some warm ups with the team, so is getting better.

“Everybody is available for Watford apart from Lejeune and Sterry (and Clark).”

Rafa on Jamaal Lascelles one year contract extension:

“I think it’s just a signal of his commitment.

“He will try to do his best for the club.

“It’s a message that he’s happy here, in the way things are going in terms of his development. That’s positive.”

Rafa Benitez on Jamaal Lascelles comments:

“He was trying to be positive and send the right message.

“He met a person at dinner for a couple of hours and he was not giving an opinion about the last 11 years.

“He is young and it was his first impression.”

Rafa Benitez on the poor results:

“It’s a question of a little bit of luck, a little bit of confidence, a little bit of everything.”

Rafa Benitez on the fans/atmosphere:

“We are really lucky to have the fans – home and away, they are really good with the team.

“I understand they sometimes don’t agree with the decisions I make, but in the end, our team is our team, the manager is the manager, and we have to stick together.

“It has to be positive on Saturday and they (the players) need help from me and the stands.

“After the game we can analyse but the atmosphere has to be positive.”

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