Cheick Tiote was supposed to be off to the Chinese Premier League in January but the move didn’t come off.
Cheick stayed on at Newcastle and since Rafa Benitez came a short seven weeks ago tomorrow, he has rejuvenated the 53 times capped Ivory Coast International defensive midfielder.
Rafa has used Cheick’s massive experience to play just in front of the back four, as a means of strengthening what has been a weak defense at Newcastle for far too long.
Rafa Benitez and Cheick Tiote against Manchester City
And Cheick has turned in some top performances in the last few games and he seems to be a completely revitalized footballer who still has a lot to give to the side.
Rafa doesn’t mess around and if you don’t give 100% or take your chance when you get it in the first team – you simply don’t stay in the team.
Jonjo Shelvey and Gini Wijnaldum have already found that out and are currently on the bench for Newcastle.
Cheick has been interviewed and you can see the Rafa way of managing his players in what Cheick says.
He was asked what Rafa has done differently since he arrived on Tyneside:
“He brings a different mentality. Everyone knows that if they don’t perform they will be on the bench. That is good for the team. Everyone has to fight for their chance.”
“We believe in ourselves and work hard as a team and we have to do the same thing.”
“When he gives you a chance you have to fight for your place to stay in the team. If you are Tiote, or another player, you have to fight to stay in the Premier League.”
“It is a very, very important game against Palace. We need to do everything. Everything we have been doing for the last four games. We have to win this game.”
“We have Crystal Palace on Saturday, one game. We focus on that game and do everything we can. If we get three points we can think of the next two games.”
“When I am fit and well I always play and do my best.” “But when I am not 100% it is difficult. I always try my best.”
“I have to improve and give everything 100%. That is what I am doing now.”
You know – something tells us that Cheick is completely motivated right now.
We really hope Tiote can turn in another star performance for the side on Saturday against Crystal Palace.
If Rafa Benitez stays with us for next season, whether that’s in the Premier League or the Championship, we would expect Cheick to see out the last year of his contract on Tyneside.
Rafa is already getting the best out of the 29 year-old Ivorian.