Rafa Benitez is 56 years old today and his wife Maria de Montserrat had traveled to Tyneside today to celebrate her husband’s birthday tonight and it was fitting that Newcastle had their first win under Rafa Benitez with a very good 3-0 win at home to Swansea.
In the previous 7 games we had drawn one and lost six to the Swans.
It was a well deserved win in the end, but from the 71st to the 78th minute Swansea looked to be getting on top and they missed three great chances to score through Ashley Williams, Jefferson Montero and Bafe Gomez.
But then after 82 minutes Sissoko scored his first goal of the season – a good snap effort with his right foot following a corner – and Andros Townsend then scored a nice goal after he had been brilliantly set up by Aleksandar Mitrovic and finished off the scoring on 89 minutes.
Rafa Benitez – on the sidelines today
Happy Birthday Rafa!
Aleksandar was one for just 10 minutes but got two assists and almost scored himself right at the death when he straight through the middle but scuffed his shot.
The score-lines are also going to be important in the last five games because of goal difference, and now we have a goal difference of -25 compared to Norwich’ -25.
There was a six goals swing in that, with Newcastle starting the day at -29 and Norwich starting the day at -22.
Rafa was delighted at the end of the game and went onto the pitch to congratulate every single one of his players, as he showed great management capabilities today.
This is what the manager had to say at the end of the game:
“Congratulations to our players because today they showed the passion, the commitment and the effort that we were expecting.” “Thank you to the fans because they were supporting the team to the end.”
“If we stick together it will be easier for us to approach the games and get chances to win.” “Everyone was doing a great job.”
“Papiss Cisse was doing a great job up front and after that Mitrovic was quite good too.” “When you have players who are giving everything, the quality you have, you can score goals and win games.”
“When you win games everybody is happy but the main thing is we saw what we expect from this team and now we have to play the same in games to come.” “It has been a good step forward but now we have to keep the momentum, keep working like today against Manchester City.”
“It will be another massive game and we will try to win.” “We will now celebrate with our friends for sure.”
Rafa’s right – the players showed real guts and commitment today and that’s what pleased him most of all.
There were just under 49,000 in attendance this afternoon and we really need a sellout crowd there on Tuesday night against Manchester City – and if we can win that game too – we will be in with a decent chance of surviving – as unlikely as that seems.
At the end of the game there was sustained applause from the Newcastle fans, who know a committed performance when they see one – and we couldn’t have asked for more effort from our lads.
One thing is getting to be very clear – if we go down Newcastle should make every effort to keep Rafa as manager – today he got good performances from a number of the players and Jamaal Lascelles and Chancel Mbemba did well at the back and Vurnon Anita had a good game at right back.
In central defense Lascelles – Mbemba may be a good future partnership for Newcastle and it was good to see both Jamal and goalkeeper Karl Darlow – two new recruits this season in the first team squad from Nottingham Forest – doing their part.
Put Rafa in charge of almost everything at the club and let him build his own team this summer and tell Ashley other changes that may be needed at the club – at least Rafa has great credibility and knows all about football and knows what he’s talking about after 30 years in coaching.
Rafa is a real football fanatic and apparently watched AC Milan training when he was on his honeymoon back in 1998 according to the TV commentators over here.
He is well suited to be the Newcastle United manager.
Today was the all important first win for Rafa and that should give our lads some much needed confidence – now they have to play out of their skins to get another win on Tuesday night.
Howay The Lads!!
We put out an article on 17 month-old Poppy-Mai on Friday and she has recently been diagnosed with a progressive malignant rhabdoid tumour, a rare and aggressive form of paediatric cancer.
To show their support two of our readers in New Zealand Sean Gordon and his sister Hayley have cut off their hair which will be donated to the Little Princess Trust in the UK.
They will then transform the hair into beautiful wigs for children who have lost their own hair to cancer and all funds raised will go to Poppy-Mai’s family to create Poppy’s Field.