When Rafa Benitez arrived at Newcastle just over a week ago he said there were two things he had to do with the team.
One was to tighten up the defense which he called a simple thing to do – presumably because you can do that with organization, discipline, positioning and keeping the shape of the team.
And it seemed last week at Leicester that Rafa had an immediate impact there – with Leicester having only one shot on target all game and Rob Elliot not having a lot of saves to make.
Of course we still lost the game 1-0 but it was still positive and encouraging and we expect our defense to be a lot tighter now.
One question we would have is why couldn’t Steven McClaren and his coaches have done the same thing if it was that simple?
Andros Townsend in action on Monday night
The other thing Rafa said he has to do was improve things at the other end – and get Newcastle scoring some gals and that was more difficult.
There are two parts to that – one is to create chances and the other is putting those chances away.
At Leicester we probably created three decent chances, but couldn’t convert any of them – we couldn’t put the chances away.
Rafa said after the game last Monday night that he would be working with the strikers so that they better understood how to work together.
The former Liverpool manager also said he would work on the confidence of the players – which is important when you are trying to score.
Andros Townsend returned from injury last Monday night and came on in the second half and he could be one of the players who comes through big time for us this season.
He’s been interviewed in The Mirror and talks about Rafa is trying to do:
“I can’t say much publicly on the tactics. That’s a secret. But he’s trying to fill us with confidence. That is key.”
“Yes it was a surprise to the players as well. I think until you are here no one realizes what a big club Newcastle is. When you attract a manager who was at Real Madrid nine weeks ago, that just shows it.”
“I am excited to work with a manager who has coached the best, won everything in the game, managed huge games. I hope this is going to be a successful partnership.”
“He has won everything the game has to offer. If we can just survive this season then the future will be bright.”
“The next nine games are so important for the club, the team, the fans, the players.”
“We know what is expected of us and what we need to do. We have a manager here who has the know how, and we have to pick up points and climb the table.”
“We all got a text last Friday. We were all expecting it. I have been in the game long enough to see managers come and go. We knew the drill, knew the new manager would come and get his points across to us in training sessions as soon as he could.”
“Every manager has their own ideas. You could see against Leicester on Monday night the way he wanted us and this week has been the same.”
“The preparation, you keep the same. It is when you step out of the tunnel and hear the crowd when you get the goose bumps.”
“It gives you a 10% boost. The crowd will play a massive part. Hopefully we can get the right result for them.”
“When we hear the fans you realise how much we don’t want to let the fans and the city down.”
Newcastle have usually played well at home recently, well apart from the disaster last time out at St. James’ Park against Bournemouth and that was so bad it seemed unreal.
We lost 3-1 in that that game to the newly promoted side where young Eddie Howe completely out-coached McClaren – and it could have been even worse.
But that was finally the end of Steve McClaren.
Tomorrow is a crucial game against Sunderland, but if Rafa can inspire his players – the lads will have 52,000 fans right behind them for the full 95 minutes – and we can get the win we so desperately need right now.
Here’s hoping for that and that things from now on may even start to lighten up a bit on Tyneside, after just a terrible last two years for the very long-suffering Newcastle fans.
Howay The Lads!!