Rafa Explains Some Of His Football Philosophy

Jamaal Lascelles has not been in top form for Newcastle in the first two games of the season and some pundits think that getting the captaincy of a big club like Newcastle at such a young age – 22 – may be affecting the lad’s form.

And Rafa Benitez caused a stir when the team was announced last night as he had Chancel Mbemba and new signing Ciaran Clark in central defense with Jamaal on the bench.

Newcastle United v Manchester City - Premier League

Jamaal Lascelles – dropped last night

Rafa talks continually with his players and he has said that Jamaal accepted the decision, although the captain did make an appearance late in the game when we were  3-1 up, when he came on for Perez after 75 minutes.

This is what Rafa said when asked about his decision to leave Jamaal out of the starting line-up:

“When I was talking with Jamaal, I was saying we needed someone who would be positive on and off the pitch.”

“He has to understand the role of a captain, and he was fine.” “I have to pick the team not thinking about that, but thinking about the best players for every game.”

“The main thing for me is the reaction of the players who are on the bench or in the stands.”

“They have to realize that we have to create a positive environment of competition between players.”

“That is the best way to be sure we have a big enough squad for the next 43 games.” “Until the end of the transfer window, it is quite complicated to keep everybody focused,” 

“But we are doing what we have to do every week.

Rafa is very big on competition between players, but he wants it to be in the right spirit and for the good of the team – and we know he will not hesitate to drop any player.

Ciaran Clark made his debut last night and was good in patches and poor in patches last night.

Ciaran was at fault for Reading’s goal after he didn’t control the ball well enough and then made  a  wild lunge to try to recover the ball – it was an obvious penalty.

It also came in first half stoppage time and that was the third time in succession we have conceded just before half time.

So Rafa still has problems to fix in the Newcastle defense.

The second half last night was much more like what we want to see from the team, but there is still work for Rafa to do – but it was also great to get our first win last night.

It should give the lad’s confidence for the game at Bristol City on Saturday where we need another win.

Comments welcome.

8 comments so far

  • toontaff2

    Aug 18, 2016 at 9:49 AM

    Comment #1

    By the time I typed it, a new article!

    Glad I picked Hayden as player of season – excellent last night -8
    Wish I’d picked Ritchie – pure class, excellent first touch and beats men regularly, 2 footed – 9
    Gayle – a real handful – 8
    Mbemba – top defender, comfortable on ball – 8
    Shelvey- much better and got stuck in – 7
    Gouffran -after slating him in p[re-season, humble pie, great work rate – 7
    Dummett – solid – 7
    Clark – nervous, ok except for silly penalty- 4th choice centre-back nailed on! – 5
    Anita – ok, but not a proper right-back and they were over running us on right for last 10-15 minutes of first half- needs to cement a seat on the bench – 5
    Perez – not going to start when Mitro returns – 5
    Sels – needs to be dropped, poor distribution and makes us all nervous! – 3

  • toontaff2

    Aug 18, 2016 at 9:50 AM

    Comment #2

    I was in 30 minutes before kick off and thought I was in on the wrong night! Gallowgate, behind the goal, middle stand Near empty, where were the flags?
    Thankfully 5 mins to kick off the fans arrived!
    Fans stuck with the team, wish I’d got a seat in the corner, though!
    Refs in this league are shocking – you need to assault an opponent to get a warning!
    Perez needs to man up and get street-wise as he is falling over too easily, expecting free-kicks.
    Shelvey got stuck in and maybe a few more need to put a few more hard challenges/fouls in to mix it if the ref is allowing it!

  • Macas

    Aug 18, 2016 at 9:50 AM

    Comment #3

    Gouffran was a waste of space last night, the sooner we get shot of him the better. Shelvey was man of the match for me. Ritchie lively as usual but final ball was a bit lacking at times I thought. Also didn’t think Sels was as bad as people made out. Going to take time for him to get used to his defence but he did nothing wrong last night, after looking a bit shaky for the second goal on Saturday.

  • YouCouldn'tMakeItUp

    Aug 18, 2016 at 9:52 AM

    Comment #4


    Just continuing on from 2 threads ago

    I think that Rafa may be close to finding the right balance. 4231 can be more attacking if you put a box-to-box midfielder in as one of the two, instead of two holding players. Some of our players unbalance the side imo. Janmaat for example. Last night (looking at the highlights) is the most balanced we have been so far this season.

  • Blofal

    Aug 18, 2016 at 9:57 AM

    Comment #5

    Blackley it means exactly what I said.

    Yes all systems can morph into each other but the distribution of players in a 4-2-3-1 makes it very easy given the distribution of players over the field. So essentially you can be playing a different system with every attack if that’s what the manager wants as I explained earlier.

    But my greater point was that managers don’t play formations they play tactics. And it’s widely recognised that tactics can be switched most rapidly in a 4-2-3-1 due to the “double 6” element.

    You can find a brief explanation on it here..


  • Blackley and Brownlie

    Aug 18, 2016 at 10:14 AM

    Comment #6

    Tactics can be switched more rapidly with a 4231? Can you explain further because that link was just gobbledegook to me. (In fact, I would question who’s written it and who’s critiqued it.)

    What I’m not getting is your assertion that 4231 is the most favoured because it can be switched more rapidly. Do you mean without having to make subs?

    I agree it’s about tactics. I’ve never understood why people obsess about formations because players can move anywhere on the park at any time and do so according to the dictates of any particular game. Better players do it better. Worse players need continual instruction from the coach.

  • Blackley and Brownlie

    Aug 18, 2016 at 10:17 AM

    Comment #7

    If 4231 can move rapidly to 442 or some other, then surely it can move just as rapidly in the reverse i.e. back to 4231? If 442 can move as rapidly to 4231, …? That’s what I’m not getting.

  • Ian Toon

    Aug 18, 2016 at 12:25 PM

    Comment #8

    Blofal/Blackley – I am told that Benitez played a 4-1-4-1 last night.

    Maybe travel reading and It’s not everyone’s light reading but selectively I would recommend an award winning book Inverting The Pyramid ( The History of Football Tactics) by Jonathan Wilson. It’s in paperback and Chapter seventeen – The Turning World covers the development of 4-2-3-1 and is not too heavy or historically based in how it evolved.

    It was an inevitable development when a team withdrew on of the then two centre forwards. At the time in the late 1990’s a holding midfielder would be used to pick him up. From this the Makelele role was born. As I said it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I found it on a selective basis filling in a lot of development and understanding of tactics employed by top former managers. In Spain John Toshack in the late 1990’s was given the credit for introducing 4-2-3-1 at Real Madrid; Wenger in his first season at the Arse introduced close to the formation 4-3-3 but thought revolutionary at the time. With Petit, Vieira and Overmars he had top top players and fitted the formation to get the best from them.

    Unless you have the mentality to enjoy watching grass grow, chapter seventeen might be the way to go. Strictly speaking not a lot has changed tactically beyond Man U in 2007-08.

    As said 4-2-3-1 is just one variant of the five man midfield.


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