Rafa Benitez thinks a victory is no more than Newcastle United deserved on Saturday, due to the fact that the Magpies had deserved to get three points in some of the previous 10 games.

If the fates had conspired against them in earlier matches, the luck certainly turned in their favour against Watford.

The visitors somehow failing to take advantage of a series of inviting chances as Newcastle were given the run around for an hour or so.

The Newcastle boss talked of his three problems and is still waiting to see how serious the injuries for Muto, Shelvey and Lascelles prove to be.

However, he was very pleased with the response from his players, especially those that hadn’t made the starting eleven: ‘All three (substitutes) really contributed, we needed energy and commitment from everyone and the three players quickly focused and did what they had to do.’

Schar definitely improved the defence when he was introduced, Ki got the team playing and linked all the play, whilst Perez scored the winner.

The whole match couldn’t have been more different to the last home game two weeks ago.

Whilst Watford in truth deserved to win, Newcastle should have beaten a very negative Brighton who allowed the Magpies control of the game.

Chris Hughton’s team hitting Newcastle with the sucker punch from a set-piece, NUFC doing the same yesterday to Watford.

Against Brighton, Rafa used one substitute, only Joselu getting 16 minutes in place of Muto.

Whilst Newcastle dominated Brighton in terms of possession, shots and corners, they created very few clear chances.

On that day, not many fans disagreed with such a limited use of subs and indeed the vast majority wouldn’t have even brought Joselu on – the feeling being that any sub would weaken the team, even if the first eleven weren’t doing great.

Sometimes the best decisions are forced on you and in truth Shelvey, Lascelles and Muto were all poor yesterday, maybe the injury issues already there to an extent and affecting performance in one or more cases? Rafa did mention that Lascelles had experienced a shoulder problem in training this week.

Anyway, difficult to see the manager taking off Lascelles and Shelvey yesterday, whilst Rondon would surely have been the first striker to be subbed as he still wasn’t match fit.

Maybe Rafa Benitez will rue not trying something different against Brighton but of course this is where it gets so difficult, such a weak squad where there are no easy choices to be made when the team is struggling.

Schar and Ki cost £3m for the pair this summer, another example of how difficult Rafa’s job has become.

Fair play to them for their impact on yesterday’s match but the big question is whether they and their teammates can now build on this first win of the season?

Rafa Benitez:

“In my opinion we deserved to win before today, but to do it today, with the team working so hard and with the fans behind us, was good.

“It is a great three points.

“We needed this first win to then have more confidence and hopefully we can play with the same intensity as we did today and score a couple more goals (in future games).

“We had three problems…three substitutions.

“But the reaction of the players was quite good against a very good team.

“A great three points and it was a difficult game as they (Watford) have confidence.

“We could have conceded (at the end) but we could have scored the second goal – a good game for the fans to watch.

“I’m really pleased with the performance and we needed the energy and commitment from everyone.

“There are a couple of muscle problems with Shelvey and Muto, Jamaal (Lascelles) had a little problem with his shoulder in a training session the other day but we we’ll have to wait a little bit and see how they are.

“For Muto, it was the calf, but too early to know what he has done.

“All three (substitutes) really contributed, we needed energy and commitment from everyone and the three players quickly focused and did what they had to do.

“They made a contribution because they were working hard but also on the ball they were quite good.

“Ayoze (Perez) was trying to hold the ball and to run, looking for a second ball.

“Ki was good on the ball and Schar also – we knew he had quality on the ball.

“The three of them gave us something and in a difficult game, we needed maybe those kind of things.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Watford 0

Goal: Perez 65

Possession was Watford 58% Newcastle 42%

Total shots were  Watford 16 Newcastle 10

Shots on target were Watford 1 Newcastle 2

Corners were  Watford 9 Newcastle 8

Referee: Craig Pawson

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles (Schar 45), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey (Ki 51), Kenedy, Rondon, Muto (Perez 45+2)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Joselu, Manquillo, Atsu

Crowd: 49,157 (Watford approx 1,500)

(Thousands of Newcastle fans didn’t miss much apart from a win! – Read HERE)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Watford 0 – Read HERE)

(Javi Gracia can’t believe how his Watford side didn’t win, never mind get beat – Read HERE)

(Graeme Swann video message for Rafa Benitez after Newcastle win – See HERE)

(Charlie Nicholas dissects Newcastle 1 Watford 0 – Read HERE)



  • Kenny

    Perez has 1 good game in 10 and yes he scored the winner but he`s not fit to start
    when a couple of our good players have an off day the cry goes out from the chron that the recent signings played better, maybe they did but talk of replacing Lascelles & Shelvey with them in the starting line up is sheer madness.
    I would start Ki but it would be in place of Slomo who gives nothing & with Jonjo & Ki we would be able to press forward more, as for the strikers we haven`t got one worth a nut and chances are that will once again be ignored in January.

    • Leicester Mag

      Spot on regarding strikers. Sadly we have a youngster Sorrensson scoring for fun in the U23s but we can’t risk due to parlous situation at present

    • Philippines

      BBC called Perez “Man of the Match”. Daily Mail reported scored him 7.5 on performance. For me, Shelvey has been over-rated for a long time. He gives the ball away too much. Ki looked very good yesterday.

      • Wor Lass

        Perez gets more respect from opposition fans and journalists than from the Mag. It`s one of life`s constants now that we don`t have Goufran or Squidward to whip.

        • Paul Patterson

          Dummett seems to get it as well which is crazy.

        • Ram Kishore

          Haha you are definitely right.

    • Wor Lass

      Jonjo is our most gifted footballer but he hasn`t played brilliantly this season. Maybe a bit of a rest, and the kick up the backside that would give him, could be a good thing. We need SloMo because of his defensive work and he did look better in the second half. I`ve always rated Ki as a good footballer, although he`s a bit lightwieght. I`d start with Rondon and Perez up front and Ki and SloMo behind. If Jamaal`s fit then bring him back with the other starters from Saturday.

      • Ram Kishore

        Schar seems good enough to get a start ahead of Clark but I maybe wrong . We definitely need slomo for defensive workrate and ball winning capability. Not to forget that he’s our most strong midfielder. Ki definitely deserves a start for the performance he put in yesterday at least for the next game against Cherries.

        Even when we play out strongest side I always have this feeling that we are still missing one player in our starting lineup even if field 11 men. I feel like we need 12 men to play any team

        • 1957

          SloMo is dire and appears to be bringing nothing to the team this season, I would frankly gamble with Longstaff before SloMo but that won’t happen in Benitez world.

          Some are viewing Diame’s last few months of last season as the norm they forget his season and a half of sheer ineptitude. From what I’ve seen on tv he is chasing shadows again on the pitch.

          • Ram Kishore

            He loses the ball a lot. Yeah the season and half of poor performances

      • Blackburn1066

        If Jonjo is our most gifted footballer we are Fu-ked

  • Paul Patterson

    Maybe it’s time to go 5-3-2.

  • Toontaff

    Lascalles’ shoulder injury was apparently down to a massive chip!

    • toonterrier

      Shelvey’s injury was down to too many chips

      • Blackburn1066

        Shelvey needs to be dropped we need a Rob lee or a Garry speed in the middle of the park, to push on, and if you can find another Andy Cole + Peter Beardsley that would do the job just great.

  • gallowgate26

    Just a thought. If they managed to put on a similar show against Bournemouth at home and somehow with a bit of luck get three points, we’ll practically be amongst the lower mid-table teams. I think if Rondon stays fit and Kenedy finds form they could be okay, it’s looking like an uncompetetive league.

  • TheFatController

    Rafa can only use what he’s got. He makes us difficult to score against through organisation and motivation.

    The plan is no doubt we can stay in contention for survival, so that early (not deadline day before an international break and then a month on subs bench bedding in so he can play an effective full 90 mid March) January we can sign creativity/ goals that come with higher price tags than £5-10m

    Even the owner must be able to see that a greater goal threat will provide far more motivation in the battle for survival than the promise of a Club 18-30 holiday for the squad ?

    • Paul Patterson

      Sadly, we’re in a catch 22 situation. The more we win the less likely the owner is to sanction higher spending.
      Imagine if we’re 12th in January, there will be no spending.

      • TheFatController

        Sadly yes – and if we’re bottom
        3 that’ll be Rafa’s fault.

        Given Pardew, Carver, MaClsren and Rafa have all had runs under Ashley that are regularly LLLLLLDLLDW it’s bizarre that some see a new manager as a solution.

        Talk about taking the easy option … we all know Pep would soon be at LLLLLLLLLDLLLW because of the cause and effect of ‘the better you coach them the less we need to spend’ Philosophy. You can’t polish the terd endlessly.

  • graham18

    The biggest problem Rafa’s got is the FCB

  • KennySamsung

    Ashley doesn’t care if Newcastle win or lose, I’d love to see Ki given a start again but would it really work not sure, don’t like Preres never will. Shelvey is one dimensional and seems to blame everyone else except his own lack of running in a forward direction with the ball (don’t you learn that as a five year old). Would like to see the Argentine and the Swiss lad play central defence, give Lascelles a break. Oh and play my auntie at left back, even carrying her shopping bags she’ll get forward quicker than Dumbo.