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Opinion

Chris Waddle with clueless remarks on Newcastle United situation

4 weeks ago
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Chris Waddle is at it again.

Talking about the situation at Newcastle United.

The former sausage maker putting his own spin on what has happened at the club he once played for.

Chris Waddle finding the need to make it a Steve Bruce v Rafa Benitez contest.

Waddle declaring: ‘Rafa was a hero on the terraces because he came across as a friend of the fans but Newcastle are doing better under Bruce.’

Then adding ‘Fans took to him (Rafa Benitez) because he was a little bit on their side – he’d have sly digs at Mike Ashley and that went down seriously well with supporters…he (Steve Bruce) is doing better than Rafa was last season if you look at his stats.’

So much nonsense, so much to take apart…

The overwhelming majority of Newcastle United fans loved/respected Rafa for so many reasons but the main ones were that this top class manager with a glittering CV saw the potential of this club even when in the second tier, potential that he believed could be realised if plans were put in place and ambition shown over a number of years, with the freedom and backing to get on with the job.

The fan respect for Rafa Benitez grew further because he showed he was no patsy unlike Pardew, Carver, McClaren and now Bruce. He called it out when Mike Ashley didn’t keep his promises and he refused to go along with the idea that a manager (or head coach) is only there to train and choose the team, with no say on transfers. Mike Ashley was insisting that Newcastle had to spend £43m on Joelinton if Rafa had stayed, we all know how that one turned out…

Chris Waddle says ‘look at his stats’…yes Newcastle have six more points than at this stage last season BUT every other stat says that this points total is largely down to incredible luck, Newcastle having the least touches in the opposition box, lowest number of shots on target, more shots on target on their own goal, Dubravka making more saves than any other keeper, by far the worst expected goals figures and so on (plus scoring less goals and conceding more than under Rafa Benitez).

Chris Waddle says about Steve Bruce: ‘He has tried to play more attacking football and realised very quickly that the players he inherited were set in their Benitez ways. He doesn’t have enough creativity going forward to dominate matches but he’s tried different systems with three at the back, they are well organised…’

This is classic, Rafa Benitez gets the blame for Newcastle playing the most negative football we have ever seen, this season, yet Steve Bruce gets all the credit for the way the team defend.

It isn’t a case of Steve Bruce not deserving any credit for the job he is doing BUT to spin it this way is ridiculous.

Rafa Benitez put in place the three centre-back system, made Lascelles captain, recruited Dubravka and all of the other centre-backs (apart from left-back sometime CB Paul Dummett).

Rafa repeatedly said that you have to eventually spend Premier League style money on forward positions and once £20m was spent on Miguel Almiron, Newcastle went far more on the attack and in the final 16 matches of last season, Rafa’s team scored more goals than all but four teams and had the fifth best points return in the PL.

Almiron has been by a massive distance Newcastle’s best player in the opposition half and Steve Bruce was backed with £60m spent on ASM and Joelinton, plus an England international striker in Carroll, plus two wing-backs that Bruce says he chose. So how can you blame Rafa Benitez for a Newcastle team who now won’t/can’t attack???

It isn’t about Rafa v Brucey though.

It is all about Mike Ashley and a refusal to run Newcastle United properly, with ambition.

Steve Bruce may well keep Newcastle United in the Premier League, which to be honest should be the bare minimum, he may even get a similar number of points as Rafa or possibly a few more.

However, whilst Mike Ashley’s idea of success is crawling from season to season surviving in the top tier, Rafa Benitez had a vision and plans to try and do so much more, a vision that the fans share.

You see what Wolves are trying to achieve and what Leicester have achieved and they are trying to now add to, two clubs with far less potential than exists at St James Park.

Chris Waddle talking to the Chronicle:

“Newcastle have got 30 points under Steve Bruce after 24 matches – that’s six more than Rafa Benitez had at the same stage of last season.

“Rafa was a hero on the terraces because he came across as a friend of the fans but Newcastle are doing better under Bruce. I think he deserves untold credit for what he’s doing.

“He had a really tough act to follow and it was a job that no one really wanted after Benitez and given the financial constraints at the club.

“Benitez was loved by the Geordies and did a good job to keep them in the Premier League. Fans took to him because he was a little bit on their side – he’d have sly digs at Mike Ashley and that went down seriously well with supporters.

“But he went, Steve was offered it and you can see why he took it. He’s a Geordie lad, he’s a Newcastle fan, his heart is there and six months on he’s doing better than Rafa was last season if you look at his stats.

“He has tried to play more attacking football and realised very quickly that the players he inherited were set in their Benitez ways.

“He doesn’t have enough creativity going forward to dominate matches but he’s tried different systems with three at the back, they are well organised, look a goalscoring threat from set-plays and all told he’s done a marvellous job.

“He’s looking to bring in a few more attacking players and needs a goalscoring midfielder and a centre-forward.

“You can’t argue with Joelinton’s effort, he puts a shift in and you can’t fault his attitude but sometimes you have to question his technical ability and he isn’t going to get you 15 to 20 goals.

“But the bottom line is that Bruce is doing a superb job when many people thought he wouldn’t, or couldn’t.”

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