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Rafa Benitez relieved to take three points after having to overcome these ‘three problems’

9 months ago
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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)

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