Rafa Benitez has made is very clear that he wants as many of our injured players back fit again as soon as possible, because they can all have an impact for Newcastle in our final eight games of the season, as we struggle to retain our Premier League status.
Rafa cites the example of Vladimir Smicer, the Czech International midfielder who scored in the Champions League final against AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005, and at the time Smicer was only a fringe player for Liverpool.
Smicer started as a substitute but soon replaced the injured Harry Kewell in the first half and of course Liverpool were 3-0 down at the half.
Vladimir Smicer – after scoring Liverpool’s second goal against AC Milan
Smicer scored the second goal for the Reds in that phenomenal second half come-back and also scored Liverpool’s final penalty just before Jerzy Dudek saved Andriy Shevchenko’s penalty to win the game for Liverpool in one of the greatest comebacks in European history.
Smicer left Liverpool that summer and moved to Bordeaux.
Citing that example of a fringe player who became really important when it really mattered in a big game, this is what Rafa Benitez has said today:
“We need to make sure we are a team because we have just eight games to play, and we have to make sure that everyone can give to this situation,”
“I was telling people in the final with Liverpool in 2005, ‘If you are not playing, maybe you can be important in the future, so carry on doing your job’.”
“And Smicer – he scored the second goal – he was a player who was not playing too many games, but he was scoring in the final.”
“So every single player here, they can give you something. Maybe in the last game they can score the winning goal or make a save, and maybe it will be the crucial save or the crucial goal.”
“If they can do that, I will be really pleased because we will be really strong.”
Rafa makes a very good point there about all the players essentially being very important during the run-in.
For the record here is Smicer’s goal for Liverpool in Istanbul.
Another good example of that last season was Jonas Gutierrez, who had become a player almost ostracized at the club with his cancer.
But he came back into the first team in the last few games of the season and he not only scored, but was the Man of the Match in that final game against West Ham.
Now Jonas is suing Newcastle for £2M as part of a disability discrimination lawsuit and it’s a bad business all around for those involved.
There is no verdict on the claim yet and fans will have their own opinions on it – but we think it’s just unfortunate it’s all turned out this way.