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Andy Townsend talks us through how Rafa Benitez led Newcastle United to safety

7 months ago
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I can’t say Andy Townsend is a particular favourite commentator/pundit of mine.

However, I thought he was very good in this coverage of Friday night’s game at the King Power.

Rafa Benitez leading Newcastle United early to safety for a second season in a row despite not being backed properly in the transfer market.

Newcastle going into the game on the back of two defeats, meaning they were still with an outside chance of being relegated.

Andy Townsend declaring pre-match: ‘Even though they (Newcastle fans) adore Rafa Benitez right now, we know how quickly things can change in football.  What are we going to get from Newcastle? Are they going to limp through again or are they going to have a real go?’

However, Townsend was very impressed with the tactics, game plan and Almiron’s contribution.

By the final whistle declaring: ‘Congratulations to Rafa Benitez and his Newcastle players. That’s as good as I’ve seen them away from home – the way they defended. They had a game plan and a cutting edge. That makes them a different proposition.’

Andy Townsend commentating on BBC Radio Five Live:

(Pre-match)Whenever I have watched Newcastle away from home against any of the better teams, they have just not been programmed to play the way the fans expect.

“Even though they adore Rafa Benitez right now, we know how quickly things can change in football.

“The home team arrive into this game in good form. They look fresh and they have been invigorated by the new coach walking in through the door.

“What are we going to get from Newcastle? Are they going to limp through again or are they going to have a real go?”

(24 minutes) “Wilfred Ndidi has to be more responsible and he has to take better care with his first touch. Newcastle recognise that he is not the most comfortable on the ball so they allow it into him before pouncing.”

(37 minutes) “Ndidi is too casual, he’s a bit shut and closed and he doesn’t know what’s in and around him. Newcastle are very quick to close him down and test his touch and so far it’s not been good enough.”

(Half-time) “It’s been a thorough first 45 minutes for Rafa Benitez and his players. Salomon Rondon was unlucky when he hit the bar with his free-kick and they look a threat. They have got the lead and Brendan Rodgers is going to need to tweak the shape of his team to get his big players in the game.”

(78 minutes) I enjoyed Miguel Almiron’s performance again tonight. He’s clearly added another direction to this Newcastle team.”

(79 minutes)Jamie Vardy should have scored. You’d expect him to score. It’s a great ball by Youri Tielemans, right on the money. He might have been just offside, it’s too tight for the officials to call. He decides to scoop it over the outrushing keeper but dinks it over the crossbar.”

(Into injury time) “Leicester going sideways, back, sideways, back. They’re not making any progress. And time is ticking. They’ve got to put it in the 18-yard box.”

(After final whistle) “Congratulations to Rafa Benitez and his Newcastle players.

That’s as good as I’ve seen them away from home – the way they defended. They had a game plan and a cutting edge. That makes them a different proposition.

“The players are walking over to the fans – almost like it’s the last game of the season and they’ve survived. They know it’s job done, mission accomplished.

“There’s no danger now, they’ll be playing Premier League football next season.”

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