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Rafa Gives His Verdict On New Goalkeeper

10:12 am, Saturday, August 20th, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 30 Comments

In the absence of Tim Krul and Rob Elliot, newly arrived Matz Sels has won the starting position in goal over Karl Darlow, who has played many games in the Championship for Nottingham Forest.

Rafa Benitez has taken time out to talk about the new Belgium goalkeeper and how he has performed so far this season.

matz sels training 32

Matz Sels in training

Thus is what Rafa has said about Matz:

“We signed him knowing that he was the best keeper in Belgium.”  

“That means sometimes a lot, sometimes it means little, because you are going to a new country, a new league, another tempo, another style of football – so you need some time to settle.”

“I think he is in the process of doing better every time. “Obviously, when you talk about a keeper, sometimes when you concede a goal it can hit confidence.”

“But he is a good worker, he is doing well and he will keep improving every week. “It depends on the games.”

“If he can make two or three saves, then that will be great, because it will give him a bit of time, and he’s doing well so far.”

“The keeper has an influence on the team, and he has to have confidence, so it’s important to give him confidence.”

Tim Krul should be starting full training with the other fit goalkeepers in about a week’s time, but his future at the club is uncertain with Rafa saying Tim could even leave the club this month if a suitable offer comes in for him.

Tim’s contract runs out next summer and it looks like the club have decided not to extend it.

If he stays on past this month, Krul will fight it out with Matz and Karl for the starting position and it wouldn’t surprise us too much if he is playing for the first team fairly soon.

Rob Elliot is due back from his ACL injury probably in November, and he will also have a fight on his hands to get the starting goalkeeper position.

We expect young Freddie Woodman to go on loan either this month or in January so he to get some first team games under his belt to help his development; he is a very promising young goalkeeper.

Comments welcome.

Tags: Coaching · Freddie Woodman · Matz Sels · Newcastle News · Rob Elliot · Tim Krul · Transfer News and Rumours

30 responses so far ↓

  • 1 toon kk // Aug 20, 2016 at 10:18 AM

    Elliott is a big miss.

  • 2 Belfast // Aug 20, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    I think Darlow should have started in goal this season myself. He wasn’t great but I think he done enough to deserve another chance. Probably like a kick in the balls for him when we signed this guy.

  • 3 WWSBRD // Aug 20, 2016 at 10:31 AM

    Not been too impressed with him personally thus far at least, think Darlow did enough to warrant a chance

  • 4 WWSBRD // Aug 20, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    toon kk
    I disagree

  • 5 loonie-toon // Aug 20, 2016 at 10:43 AM

    Benteke gone palace 4 year deal

  • 6 Slank // Aug 20, 2016 at 10:47 AM

    A very reasonable view expressed by Rafa even though Sels doesn’t look entirely confident especially at stopping and smothering the ball.

    He has allowed a few balls to bounce out of his hands which I’m sure Darlow would not have done.

    But if Rafa is like any other manager his first instinct is to select the players he has brought in at the expenses of those already here which I’m sure all the players will recognise.

  • 7 The overrated Frenchman // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:10 AM

    Slank – that’s a good summation. Strange signing in my view unless it’s welded on that Krul is going. I’d be playing Darlow ahead of him anyway from what I’ve seen, but as you say he’s “Rafa’s man” so he’s got the inside lane. Looks like a perpetual accident waiting to happen to me, so I think it’s going to be interesting.

  • 8 Laurent Robert 32 // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:11 AM

    Loonie, what’s the fee?

  • 9 lochinvar // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    Any ideas who the incoming players are that Rafa alludes to in earlier blog
    Dad Bost and Ings as a pair would compliment Mitro and Gayle.
    Or will we get a good surprise ?

  • 10 Belfast // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:16 AM

    I’d read 32 million add ons included. So Liverpool managed to re-coup the money which is ridiculous considering he was shite.

  • 11 Belfast // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:17 AM

    27 + 5 million add ons.

  • 12 jazzyp // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:18 AM

    If Ajax want Krull in to replace there keeper who is off to Barca. Then why don’t we try for a swap deal with a number of there players.
    Ghazi springs to mind if were after an attacking midfielder.

  • 13 martoon // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:18 AM

    I have to agree with others he just doesn’t look confident as if the next howler is just around the corner. I don’t see what Darlow did wrong but Rafa sees them everyday so we’ll have to trust him on this one.

  • 14 Belfast // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:22 AM

    Carragher in todays mail saying Rafa doesn’t like english goalkeepers.

  • 15 jazzyp // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:22 AM

    Apparently Everton are going for Sissoko as well. So I am sure a deal could be done involving young Galloway to us could be drawn up

  • 16 Belfast // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:25 AM

    Maybe Guardiola’s outlook on keepers is the same as Benitez. He never liked English goalkeepers and he would ask why they dived all over the place in training, when they only have five or six saves to make each game. Benitez was always of the opinion they should work more on their feet, positional play and decision making.

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  • 17 Laurent Robert 32 // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:26 AM

    Cheers, Belfast.

  • 18 Munster Mag // Aug 20, 2016 at 11:53 AM

    Big move from palace. I didnt think they wud get our winger or Benteke.

  • 19 sing in the corner // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:06 PM

    Blimey Shay starting n goal for Stoke! Hope he’s had his fish oils and anti inflammatories in advance

  • 20 lesh // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:11 PM


    £27m + £5m for Benteke = Pardew probably sacked before Christmas.

  • 21 Nufc-83 // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:13 PM

    I think Elliot will come in and take that spot not sure why people slate him so much as based on what he has done in a Newcastle too he should be everyone’s no1 (guess he needs a name like ellioto haha).

    I’m gutted again lads nobody will be showing the game what a mess if listening on the radio Ffs!!!

  • 22 loonie-toon // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:14 PM

    Lauren Robert 32
    It dint say a fee it was on sky sports just before I rote it that’s all the said about him signing for palace

  • 23 lesh // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:17 PM

    According to the Chronic, Sunderland among favourites to be next City of Culture.

    Sunderland? Culture? Ffs!!

  • 24 firebug666 // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:19 PM

    From The Mag

    Newcastle United have responded to the question of whether St James Park will carry a new sponsor’s name when the Wonga deal finishes at the end of this (2016/17) season.

    Mike Ashley had renamed St James Park the ‘S***** D***** Arena’ but with no cash paid by SD to Newcastle United for the privilege.

    When Wonga took up the shirt sponsorship, it was announced by the club that stadium naming rights were also included in the deal, with Wonga said to have chosen to return the name to ‘St James Park’ as a goodwill gesture to fans.

    At the latest Newcastle United Fans Forum held 10 August 2016), the club were asked what would happen at the end of this season, once the Wonga deal came to its conclusion.

    The minutes of the fans forum have just been released (10 days after the meeting…) and it has been revealed that whilst Newcastle United are in ‘discussions with a number of potential new partners’, any deal will NOT involve renaming St James Park.

    Newcastle United Fans Forum minutes

    The club confirmed that its contract with Wonga will definitely expire at the end of the current season and the club is in discussions with a number of potential new partners.

    The club outlined that shirt sponsorship remains a key revenue driver for the club and it was therefore important for the club to secure the right sponsor for next season and beyond.

    ‘A question from a supporter which asked if the club would give fans the option of printing a charity on the front of the shirt next season.’

    The club is not intending to have a blank shirt next season and because shirt sponsor contracts stipulate that a company would have the right to its logo on all kit, the club will not be offering a printing option on the front of the shirt in the way requested.

    ‘Asked if the stadium name will change once the Wonga sponsorship agreement ends (Wonga previously purchased the stadium naming rights)’

    The club confirmed that the stadium name will remain the same.

    ‘Asked if the club would be looking closely at its partner brands.’

    The club explained that it has a clear idea about the style of brand it would like to see on Newcastle United shirts but also had to take revenue potential into consideration and strike a fair balance.

  • 25 lesh // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:20 PM

    Sunderland reported to be among the favourites to be the next City of Culture.

    Sunderland? Culture? Ffs!

  • 26 Hail Wor Ashley // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:21 PM


    Hull are hosting it next year. Should be renamed Wasteland City Most In Need of an Economic Boost and Fancy Marketing. Would be more truthful about the selection criteria.

  • 27 lesh // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:25 PM


    You’re being very unfair on Hull – it’s streets ahead of Sunlun and what’s more, Hull folk don’t drag their knuckles along the ground!

  • 28 firebug666 // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:26 PM

    For any who have not read the minutes here they are.

    Wednesday 10th August, 2016 – Sir Bobby Robson Suite, St. James’ Park

    Lee Charnley – Managing Director
    Nicole Atkin – Head of Business Development
    Lee Marshall – PR and Supporter Liaison Manager (chair)
    Eddie Rutherford – Head of Facilities
    Steve Storey – Head of Safety and Security
    Wendy Taylor – Head of Media
    Stephen Tickle – Box Office Manager

    Dave Abbott – Away Fan Representative
    Gareth Beard – Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association (NUDSA)
    Mark Betham – Equality Representative
    Alan Clark – Over-65s Representative
    Craig English – Corporate Representative
    Steve Hastie – NUFC Fans United
    David Lee – Leazes Stand Representative
    Paul Loughlin – East Stand Representative
    David Maudlin – Milburn Stand Representative
    Brian Parkin – Gallowgate Stand Representative
    Taylor Payne – Members’ Representative

    Kate Bradley – Newcastle United Foundation
    Steve Cole – Supporters Branch Representative
    Darren Miller – Long Distance Fan Representative
    Sharon Ravenhall – Women’s Representative
    Bryn Tennant – Young Persons Representative

    Lee Marshall (LM) welcomed all attendees to the meeting and meeting protocol was outlined (no live tweeting or recording, production of official minutes to be approved by the group).
    Introductions were made around the table, with mention that six current members will reach the end of their tenure at the meeting’s conclusion.
    LM drew attention to recently supporter information, namely club updates on season ticket refunds (due early September) and season ticket entry cards (keep last season’s card unless moving seats).
    The club’s head of business development, Nicole Atkin (NA) – who joined just before the previous Fans Forum meeting – was introduced to the group.

    NA gave supporters an update on how the club’s digital strategy is evolving, with a new website set to be launched later in 2016.
    The club stressed how important fan involvement is in the process of producing a new site. Fans Forum members – including outgoing members – will be invited to be part of the process as the site is built and tested.
    Supporters were asked to offer initial feedback on their current experiences with the existing website.
    Alan Clark (AC) made reference to nufcTV and asked if the club can reach more fans by following similar models to clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool. AC also passed on comments from overseas fans who were keen to see a match archive added.
    NA emphasised the importance of nufcTV to its digital strategy and acknowledged that in its current set up, potential viewer numbers are restricted because content is behind a paywall.
    The club explained that producing a standalone television channel via satellite TV carried very high costs and that one of the primary aims of its digital strategy is to enhance nufcTV as a dynamic, interactive platform for all supporters via mobile, tablet and desktop.
    NA stated that the main aim of its digital strategy is to make club channels the first port of call for all supporters.
    Gareth Beard (GB) noted that the new website will need to consider the needs of supporters with visual impairments and offered the assistance of the Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association (NUDSA).
    NA welcomed NUDSA’s involvement in the website testing stage, which will also include expert input from staff and partners with almost two decades of experience in digital development.

    New digital partners
    Craig English (CE) commented that the website is not currently user friendly and asked for clarity on when the club’s existing digital agreement was reaching a conclusion.
    LM outlined the benefits and opportunities of a new digital partner, which will make the website a much greater experience for fans.
    NA explained that the club’s current digital agreement was coming to an end and that it had appointed new digital partners during the close season.
    As a result, the club has produced a specification for its new website, which is currently being built.
    Once the initial build is complete, the club will introduce it to a small number of supporters for testing before then launching a beta version of the website which all supporters can experience and feed back on.
    The club is on target to launch the new website in December 2016 and is committed to continued development and improvement into 2017 and beyond.

    Buying tickets online
    The club accepted there were a number of limitations around purchasing match tickets on its existing website, which it wishes to address. Fans Forum members were asked for their feedback.
    AC, Patrick Loughlin (PL), and Taylor Payne (TP) all commented on problems they have had when purchasing tickets via the website, which compares far less favourably to sites of other clubs and organisations.
    The club confirmed that the company behind its online ticketing system is launching a new version, which will be available shortly. The club will also look at alternatives to ensure it continues to offer the best service that it possibly can.
    TP asked if the club could improve the process via mobile, citing significant problems in the purchasing process.
    NA outlined that a large proportion of supporters now use mobile devices to enter the website so mobile is an integral part of the club’s ongoing digital development.
    David Maudlin (DM) offered positive feedback on the ticketing system online but accepted mobile would be a useful addition.

    The club stated that its intention is to give nufcTV much more exposure to a wider audience globally and it is currently exploring options in this area in line with its new website development.
    NA invited Fans Forum members to a workshop later in August, which will enable the club to collate and consider feedback before a potential relaunch of nufcTV in future.
    This will include feedback on the club’s membership scheme, with a view to reviewing what membership means to supporters and refining its benefits.
    TP asked if the new website will be dependent on the club being promoted.

    The club confirmed that it it is committed to launching its new website as originally planned this season.
    Brian Parkin (BP) emphasised the growing desire from fans to receive instant videos, images and updates on social media. TP asked if the club could add to its output by streaming pre-season matches.
    LM explained that the new website and digital partners would present opportunities for streaming pre-season games in future. In the meantime, the club has stepped up its content on existing channels including Twitter and Facebook, as well as recently launching Instagram and Snapchat accounts.
    SH asked about the possibility of beam backs of away matches this season, especially given the size of some Championship stadia and the high demand for away tickets.
    The club explained that there is criteria which has to be satisfied in order to beam games back to St. James’ Park but the club is already exploring that option.
    GB and AC commented that they don’t receive club emails despite being signed up.
    The club stated it will update their individual email addresses immediately and will be ensuring sign-up is much easier for supporters via the new digital platform.

    Fans Forum pages
    TP, CE and AC suggested the Fans Forum needed greater visibility across club channels, including clarity on what the Forum aims to do.
    As part of its new website, the club will be introducing a prominent Fans Forum section to ensure the Forum has far greater visibility.
    LM encouraged supporters to provide feedback on how they would like the Forum to develop in future and the club remains open to considering all options.

    Fans Forum members were encouraged to raise questions on any club matters to club representatives.

    TP (Members’ representative) and DM outlined feedback from fans which was critical of the club’s membership scheme. TP suggested that supporters were purchasing membership purely as a way to access away tickets, rather than as a badge of honour or belonging. AC questioned the future of the membership model.
    The club outlined its commitment to a membership concept and will meet with Fans Forum in a separate workshop shortly to review what membership means to supporters. The club has recently adjusted adult membership to become a season-long product, with a view to relaunching the scheme next summer with brand new benefits.

    The club also explained that it had discussed the issue of away tickets during the close season and confirmed away tickets will be offered on a general sale basis for selected games during the 2016/17 season.
    Dave Abbott (Away fans’ representative) welcomed the re-introduction of a general sale but urged the club to continue prioritising supporters with the most loyalty points.
    The club stressed that season ticket holders and members will continue to receive priority to away tickets as normal, but general sale will be offered to all supporters only if availability remains. This is mainly expected for midweek games where the club is offered a significant allocation.

    Match travel
    DA asked if the club had any plans to reintroduce club travel for away games.
    The club confirmed there are no plans to reintroduce a transport scheme in the foreseeable future.

    Reciprocal away ticket pricing
    SH asked if the club has any plans to pursue lower away ticket prices with Championship clubs on a reciprocal basis, as it had successfully in the Premier League.
    The club explained that discussions around reciprocal prices had received a lukewarm response amongst Championship clubs, with most keen to control their own pricing structures.
    The club believes that the success of reciprocal pricing in the Premier League was aided by the Away Fans Fund, which does not exist in the EFL. As a result, the impact on clubs’ revenues in the Championship would be far greater.
    DA asked if there is a rule in the EFL which states there must be equal ticket pricing between home and away fans who in comparable seats. DA raised a concern that Newcastle United fans could be charged significantly higher ticket prices away from home this season than fans of the same Championship clubs when they travel to St. James’ Park.
    The club is continuing to offer what it feels are fair ticket prices to away fans at St. James’ Park but will review league regulations to see what impact they have on Newcastle United fans travelling away.

    Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST)
    TP and SH welcomed renewed dialogue between the club and NUST given the unity that currently exists in the club’s fan base, with a view to NUST potentially returning to the Fans Forum.
    The club expressed it was open to entering into dialogue with NUST representatives and a meeting will be scheduled in due course.

    Shirt sponsorship

    AC, DM, David Lee (DL) asked for clarity on when the club’s current shirt sponsorship with Wonga will expire. DM presented a question from a supporter which asked if the club would give fans the option of printing a charity on the front of the shirt next season.
    The club confirmed that its contract with Wonga will definitely expire at the end of the current season and the club is in discussions with a number of potential new partners.
    The club outlined that shirt sponsorship remains a key revenue driver for the club and it was therefore important for the club to secure the right sponsor for next season and beyond.
    The club is not intending to have a blank shirt next season and because shirt sponsor contracts stipulate that a company would have the right to its logo on all kit, the club will not be offering a printing option on the front of the shirt in the way requested.
    DM asked if the stadium name will change once the Wonga sponsorship agreement ends (Wonga previously purchased the stadium naming rights).
    The club confirmed that the stadium name will remain the same.
    SH asked if the club would be looking closely at its partner brands.
    The club explained that it has a clear idea about the style of brand it would like to see on Newcastle United shirts but also had to take revenue potential into consideration and strike a fair balance.

    EFL Trophy
    DM asked why the club declined an invitation to field a team in the EFL Trophy.
    As per an official statement at the time, the club is supportive of young Newcastle United players taking part in the tournament in principal.
    However, the club was initially told it would not be invited to field a team and therefore made a commitment to young players that they would be able to go out on loan to gain experience.
    The club subsequently found out it had been invited to field a team via Sky Sports.
    The club’s final decision was that it would be better for young players to be immersed in a first team environment out on loan for a significant number of games, rather than what could be a handful of games in the EFL Trophy.

    Training Centre
    TP asked for an update on the club’s new Training Centre plans.
    The club explained that it had enhanced its initial Training Centre plans significantly and that discussions had taken place with Rafa Benítez prior to any work commencing.
    Following those discussions, it was agreed that knocking down the entire building could be extremely disruptive, particularly given the team’s current focus.
    The club also has to factor in the reality of a loss of revenue associated with dropping out of the Premier League.
    Accordingly, the club is exploring how the building could be developed modularly; enabling the team to remain in the Training Centre while still allowing for significant improvements to the building infrastructure.
    Eddie Rutherford (ER) confirmed that in the meantime, significant investment had been over the summer months to enhance the layout of the current building and gym in consultation with Rafa Benítez. There has also been a brand new artificial surface laid at both the training centre and Academy.
    The club reemphasised its original commitment to significantly improving the club’s training facilities going forward at the right time and finances permitting.

    AC asked about Rafa Benítez’s role at the Newcastle United Academy and about any changes that had been made since his appointment.
    The club stated that Rafa Benítez has taken a keen interest in the club’s Academy and that discussions and planning are ongoing regarding its development. The club will continue to communicate any future changes at the earliest opportunity.
    Since the meeting, Steve Harper has been appointed as the club’s Academy goalkeeping coach.

    Women’s team
    TP commented that the club should be commended for recently strengthening its ties with Newcastle United Women’s Football Club (NUWFC) and asked about the logistics of NUWFC using the club’s Academy.
    The club confirmed that scheduling is continuing with a view to all of NUWFC’s first team games will take place at the Academy. Some development games may still need to take place elsewhere in the short term.

    TP asked if Rémy Cabella’s move to Marseille has been made permanent.
    The club confirmed that the transfer has been made permanent (public announcement followed on 11/08/2016).

    BP passed on a question in relation an issue with the PA system in the Gallowgate End.
    ER asked for seat information in order to look closely at the specific area of the stadium in question. BP has supplied the details.

    SH commented that some areas of the stadium exterior looked like they needed cleaning, while there had also been a persistent issue with wet flooring at the Gallowgate End.
    ER advised that the issue with the wet floor at the Gallowgate End outer concourse was due to it being exposed to the elements. The area is now subject to pre-match checks and a cleaning routine in advance of supporters arriving.
    In addition, all flights of internal stairs and lateral gangways in the lower bowl of the stadium have been painted over the summer and a maintenance schedule is in place to continue stadium improvements.
    The club encouraged Fans Forum members to contact the club at any time should issues arise at the stadium on matchday.

    Rafa Benítez kindly gave up part of his evening to join the meeting and took time to meet Fans Forum members individually.
    Rafa remained at the meeting for around 45 minutes and enjoyed an informal, off-the-record chat with supporters about their experiences supporting the club, his time on Tyneside so far and the season ahead.
    Rafa presented outgoing members with a small signed item on behalf of the club as a gesture of thanks for the time they had committed to the Fans Forum.

    6. AOB
    Fans Forum development
    The club asked members to offer their recommendations for the future of the Fans Forum, which they will share via email. The club reaffirmed its commitment to developing the process for the benefit of all supporters during the 2016/17 season and beyond.

    Next meeting: TBC

  • 29 lesh // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:33 PM


    At least Hull could offer Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin as cultural icons. Who can Sunlun offer?

  • 30 stuart no9 // Aug 20, 2016 at 12:36 PM

    lesh , city of culture is not an award , it merely means that funds would be available to try and turn the sh’t hole into something that resembles a city . lets be honest , its going to take a few bob to get that place looking somewhere near decent , a new bridge for a start. Thats how i think it works anyway – could be wrong though

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