Rafa Benitez made the rather strange decision of making Moussa Sissoko the Newcastle captain for the vital game yesterday when he dropped Jonjo Shelvey, but it seemed to work because Moussa had a good game for a change – and he even scored his first goal of the season and then went bonkers when he ran over to the touchline where Benitez was.
So Rafa seems to have figured out how he can get the best out of the 35 times capped French International who has had a poor season for Newcastle – so far.
Moussa Sissoko rifles the ball home for Newcastle’s second goal
This is what Rafa said in the Chronicle about Moussa:
“I am really pleased with him because since I came here, the only thing I can say is that he’s been really good in terms of his work on the pitch, the things he is trying to do in the training sessions and also the relationships he has with a lot of the players.”
“He is someone that they can see as a very influential player with a lot of our French players, and I think it is important because he is so good that he has confidence. It is a boost for him and also for the team.”
“We have a lot of players who talk French, so then you need someone like him who is a big name for them and they can see he is a good player, a great player and if he is performing and working as hard as he has been working, the others have to follow him.”
Moussa has been so disappointing this season, but if we he can come to life in the remaining five games of the season then maybe he can help us even survive in the Premier League.
It’s a fact that when Moussa plays well the team plays well and that was certainly true yesterday.
And from what Rafa is saying today it seems that Coloccini may not make it back before the end of the season with that calf injury of his, so it’s important that Moussa perform as one of our remaining senior players.
If having the captaincy is such a spur to the Frenchman then we assume Rafa will keep him on as captain – and it could be an unchanged starting line up against Manchester City on Tuesday night.
That will be a very tough game for us, but we have to try to win the game somehow – we need the points to avoid being relegated.
And we were assuming Moussa will be sold whether we go down or stay up next month, but it may be if we stay up Rafa wants to keep him in the squad.
Wonder what Rafa is doing to try to get the best out of Gini Wijnaldum, who had another quiet game yesterday?