At the end of last season Rafa Benitez played Vurnon Anita at left back and the Dutchman struggled a bit, but then he was switched to right back and he played very well and scored a great goal against Manchester City in the 1-1 draw at home.
And in those last few games of last season Vurnon looked excellent at right back and carried out Rafa’s instructions to the letter.
Vurnon was even called up for the Dutch squad in the summer and Daryl Janmaat wasn’t – and it seemed that Rafa had found Vurnon’s best position.
Vurnon Anita – now a key player at Newcastle
In pre-season Rafa played Vurnon all the time in various positions and he has done that in the first four games of the season and sometimes even on the right side of midfield.
Vurnon struggled there, but in the last two games he’s been back at right back and looked a very good player in that position.
Daryl Janmaat has not played in the last two games and Rafa explained after the 1-0 win at Ashton Gate yesterday why he picked Vurnon at right-back – basically because he earned his place there and the gaffer also talked about the game yesterday:
“I have to pick the best players for games, I thought Vurnon Anita did well the other day. I wanted to keep playing with him.”
“You also have this second ball to deal with too. In the end it was a good performance as a team, a defensive team performance.”
“Everybody tried to help. It was important to see everybody working so hard. It is important to be a team that attacks and scores goals.”
“But then at the same time you have to be organised and have team spirit to work and get a result.”
“For me it’s a good step forward in terms of confidence as well.”
Vurnon seems dedicated to Newcastle and you didn’t hear one squeak from the Dutchman about wanting to leave the club after we were relegated.
In fact he said he wanted to help Newcastle get promoted first time – and he’s certainly going to be an important player for the team and for Rafa this season.
He follows instructions well, trains hard every single day – and is certainly appreciated by the manager.
It seems his career on Tyneside has been revitalized since Benitez arrived at the club.
That cannot be bad.