It’s a great comeback story of Cheick Tiote this year and the Ivorian has been playing really well for Newcastle in his defensive midfield role, where he is now partnering local lad Jack Colback and both are playing well for the side protecting the back four.
We thought Cheick would have left the club in January when he joined the training in Spain of Chinese Premier League club Shanghai Shenhua, but the deal did not materialize because of personal terms.
Rafa Benitez with Cheick Tiote
So Cheick returned to Newcastle to see out the season and along with another of our experienced players Papiss Cisse – new manager Rafa Benitez has made good use of both of them over the last several games and both are starters.
Rafa of course knows what he is doing and he’s strengthened the defense significantly by using both Jack and Cheick in front of the back four.
This is what Rafa said in the Chronicle about the 29 year-old.
“He’s been really good for us,” “We needed somebody with his style of football. We needed somebody with his character and his aggression.”
“He is competitive, he can challenge and tackle players well. I think he’s been an inspiration for the other players.”
We have also noticed how upbeat Cheick has been recently, especially when he was interviewed last week in the Mirror and he seems to be a big fan of Rafa’s:
“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.”
Only today Chancel Mbemba has heaped praise on Rafa for giving the players and the staff confidence that was sadly missing under former head coach Steve McClaren.
Whatever happens this season we just have to keep Rafa Benitez at Newcastle.