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.
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.