Rafa Benitez cries foul with Newcastle fixtures – Not a happy man
Rafa Benitez has been talking about the challenges that lie ahead in the coming days.
The festive period in English football is always a busy one but the Newcastle boss thinks Newcastle have been dealt a pretty poor hand.
Most clubs have to play two games only three days apart and Rafa Benitez says this has been ‘scientifically proven’ to negatively affect a player’s physical ‘capacity’ by around 7%.
On top of that though, the NUFC boss says that he and his squad have additional difficulties in their late December programme.
For starters, unlike most clubs, Rafa points out Newcastle have both of these post-Xmas matches away from home.
As well as that, Newcastle’s players and fans have to travel most in this overall festive four game period, 880 miles in round trips to the two away games of the four matches (Fulham (H), Liverpool (A), Watford (A) and Man Utd (H)).
To cap it all, Liverpool Airport is closed, so Newcastle’s players have to travel by coach on Christmas Day ahead of the game at Anfield, rather than a very short flight.
A win on Boxing Day will surely improve Rafa Benitez’ mood…
Rafa Benitez speaking to The Chronicle:
“We don’t really have any time off because we have so many games.
“We have to train early this week, then we have to travel by coach on Christmas Day because the airport is closed in Liverpool.
“So we have to travel the day before the game after lunch, but that’s it, and the rest of the time we have to train, recover, and be ready.
“We will have to use the squad over the Christmas period.
“Obviously when you play two games in three days, physically you don’t have time to recover.
“Physically you may be able to do well and win the second game, but scientifically it has been proven that you lose around 7% of your capacity, more or less.
“It means you are not fully recovered, but still this is football and you can be a great player and be in the right position to score the best goal.
“But it doesn’t mean that you are fully fit, it means that you have quality to do that.
“It is important to have the squad available, it’s important to have everybody concentrated and focused because maybe some will not play this game, but they may be needed for the next one.
“I have to be sure that everybody is ready because that is the key during these busy periods.
“Our fans will travel further than anyone, but also we play two games away, some teams they play one game at home and one away, or two at home.
“But we play two games away, which is the most difficult, and then these things do not normally happen and it is not in our favour this time.
“I don’t like the fixtures the way they are organised, I just think it is not fair but you cannot change that.
“They (Muto and Murphy) are training well, so they will have a chance (of playing between Christmas and New Year) because you never know when you will have knocks after each game and you play another game in three days.
“You don’t have time to recover, so everybody has to be ready because we may need them.
“Also, it depends on the game, because maybe they will have more chances in one game or another game depending on how we play. We have to manage the squad in the best way possible.
“I think he (Sean Longstaff) will have more chances obviously because still Jonjo is injured, even if he (Shelvey) will be fine in a few days.
“We don’t have too many options in midfield, so I told Sean Longstaff this week that he is doing well, I am happy with him, and he has to stay, he has to keep working hard.
“After, we will see what happens in January, but I have a lot of confidence in him.”
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