Masterful from Rafa Benitez as he lays it on the line to Mike Ashley what needs to happen now
Rafa Benitez will no doubt insist that Premier League safety is not quite assured yet, another few points needed.
However, his body language at the final whistle on Friday night told you that it is very much job done in the Spaniard’s eyes.
A committed professional performance saw the players put Rafa’s game plan into perfect practice.
Leicester restricted to minimal clear chances despite overwhelming possession, whilst Newcastle scored the winner and hit the woodwork, as well as wasting some other very good situations.
Rafa Benitez was of course happy to talk about the victory, the players and the fans, but more importantly now, he was also happy to talk about what needs to happen now for Newcastle United to progress and of course for him to extend his stay at St James Park.
Other issues at the club are important of course but if Mike Ashley can’t even understand and accept what Rafa is saying on transfers, then there really in no hope/point in the manager staying.
Rafa Benitez says that as well as realistic funds being made available: ‘It is not that you need to sign the best player in the world…You just have to find the players that you need and do it quickly.’
This is of course not new, either for Rafa saying it and Mike Ashley hearing it.
Transfer window after transfer window, Benitez has had players lined up early, only for Ashley to block the signings.
Even in January with the manager desperate for help to fight relegation, nobody was signed until the very last day of the window. The NUFC owner desperate to save as much money as possible as he gambled with the club’s Premier League position, whilst Almiron’s agent later revealed that the deal might never have happened if Atlanta hadn’t been willing to back down so much.
An even more perfect example though is Salomon Rondon. Despite selling Mitrovic for £22m (rising to £27m), Mike Ashley refused to allow Rafa Benitez to put an offer in to buy him.
He did eventually allow a loan but as Ashley haggled over every last penny, the deal dragged on and on until Rondon only arrived just before the summer transfer deadline and Rafa had to agree on Dwight Gayle going the other way.
Rondon arrived having had no pre-season with Newcastle and well short of fitness, meaning he and NUFC were playing catch-up.
He didn’t score until Newcastle’s 13th Premier League game of the season but has still managed nine goals and five assists.
Even if only Salomon Rondon had been signed early in the window, I don’t think NUFC would have had yet another relegation battle.
Will Mike Ashley listen to Rafa Benitez this time???
“It is just to go to the transfer window and sign the players that you need at the right time.
“Sometimes you have the players you want but you cannot get those players because a team can pay more money than you.
“But…you have to go in early (for the players you want), you have to choose your targets that you need.
“It is not that you need to sign the best player in the world…
“You just have to find the players that you need and do it quickly.
“Then (with Newcastle United) you have a city and a massive club with all the potential to grow, to do things better, to try to compete with anyone in the Premier League.
“Obviously the top six are a little bit far away now (at the minute) but still you can compete in the other range if you do a little bit better.
“This was a good game against a good team and we did very well.
“Our players worked so hard and this relationship between the players and fans means a lot to us. The players and fans tried to do their best.
“As a coach, you always have a game plan. You can prepare however you want but it depends on the players to make the difference.
“The problem against James Maddison or Jamie Vardy is you have to concentrate from the first minute to the last.
“We are really pleased with the clean sheet and three points, you have to enjoy today and be ready for the next one.
“We had two or three counter-attacks where we could have had a little more composure and scored more.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Leicester 0 Newcastle 1
Possession was Leicester 72% Newcastle 28%
Total shots were Leicester 12 Newcastle 11
Shots on target were Leicester 5 Newcastle 5
Corners were Leicester 2 Newcastle 3
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Schar, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Ki (Diame 82), Almiron (Atsu 78), Perez, Rondon
Darlow, Shelvey, Fernandez, Muto, Yedlin
Crowd: 32,108 (3,000 Newcastle)
(Reaction from Newcastle fans/writers to the 1-0 win at Leicester HERE)
(Great response from Alan Shearer to NUFC victory at Leicester HERE)
(Excellent footage of Newcastle fans singing/celebrating at full-time HERE)
(Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher discuss the state of Newcastle United HERE)
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