The Newcastle United Blog

News and Commentary On Newcastle United By Ed Harrison, A Proud Exiled Geordie And Lifelong Fan

The Newcastle United Blog header image 2
Howay The Lads!!

Roberto Di Matteo Talks About The Strengths Of Newcastle

12:17 pm, Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 54 Comments

Aston Villas manager Roberto Di Matteo gave his press conference today for the home game against Newcastle United at Villa Park on Saturday.

Both managers have the rare distinction of winning the Champions League – Roberto with Chelsea (2012) and Rafa with Liverpool (2005) and Rafa is also a losing finalist with Liverpool (2007).


Roberto Di Matteo after being appointed Villa manager

Benitez has also won the Europa League twice with Valencia (2004) and Chelsea (2013).

This is some of what Roberto said today:

“It’s a big game for both clubs. “Newcastle have probably started a little bit better than us.”

“it’s a team that likes to play a lot on the counter attack as well.” “They seem to be quite a solid team as well, so I think we’ll have to be patient to break them down and create our chances.”

“I think they’re defensively very strong, and then try with the offensive players that they have to hurt you.”

“I’m not sure whether it’s going to be a classic, but it should have the ingredients for a good game.”

“The Villa fans could make a really big difference for us,” “Playing at home in front of our fans is always very exciting and I’m looking forward to the game on Saturday.”

“It could really kick-start our season. “By winning on Saturday we could really get back in to the mix and really give us a boost of confidence.”

In a strange twist Benitez replaced Roberto Di Matteo after he was sacked by Chelsea in late 2012 after brilliantly winning the Champions League for them for the first time ever six months before his sacking.

You cannot charge Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich of not being ruthless.

Rafa went on that season to win the Europa League, but he wasn’t given the job full time and Chelsea brought back Jose Mourinho in June of 2013.

Two years later Jose won the Premier League for them and then last season, after the players seemed to turn against him, he was sacked and is now at Manchester United.

Management merry-go-round.

It will be a tough game for us on Saturday.

How Will Newcastle Fare At Aston Villa?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Comments welcome.

Tags: Championship · Coaching · Contracts · Newcastle News · Other News · Poll

54 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jayphoto // Sep 22, 2016 at 12:22 PM

    Bet it was a no brainer for Clark to leave Villa. Their fans do the same as us when frustrated and turn on the players that came through the youth rather than expensive foreign flops. He took a lot of flack last year that could have better been placed.
    Met the lad a few times and know people in the players circle at villa, photographed a few wives and girlfriends for lads mags etc and Clark is a super guy. Very very positive, really takes being a role model seriously, always got time for fans, does a lot more in the community than he has to etc, as a squad player having him around the training ground can’t be a bad thing

  • 2 Jail for Ashley // Sep 22, 2016 at 12:28 PM

    Sounds a bit like Mike Williamson, an unsung hero for the toon, a purple on shitty brown status who gave his all, as limited as it was.

  • 3 jayphoto // Sep 22, 2016 at 12:47 PM

    @jail, yea was quite odd. My brother in law is a big villain, Clark went from being the next big thing to being the cause of all that is evil the moment he went from fringe to first team. For me, Clarks versatility hindered him as often he’d be left back or centre mid, never a run in one position. He reminds me a lot of taylor in his game but the way their fans treated him was similar to how Paul Dummett gets treated

  • 4 Belfast // Sep 22, 2016 at 12:59 PM


    And I’d be happy enough with that. They’ve been extremely unlucky this season imo

  • 5 JamesToon // Sep 22, 2016 at 1:32 PM


    From what I’ve seen from him, apart from The penalty he gave away v reading, I like him.

  • 6 Essex Geordie Bill // Sep 22, 2016 at 1:33 PM

    just catching up on the Merry Go Round.

    Essex Geordie Bill // Sep 22, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    Going back to the how many points discussion that we would end up with on current form, I work it out to be around 93 which should be enough for automatic promotion.

    The second point of interest is that Southampton are apparently interested in HBA, that would be a curious move.

    Essex Geordie Bill // Sep 22, 2016 at 11:19 AM

    I’ve been mulling over the Rafa bingo and it looks to be a real puzzler this time around.

    The only players I see as certs. are Yedlin, Lascelles, Colback, Shelvey, Ritchie and Gouffron. The other five places are up for Grabs imo.

  • 7 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 1:33 PM

    Belfast, I’d be reasonably happy with a draw as well matey and you’re right about them being unlucky – silly late goals have cost them. That said, the game last 90 mins + and they need to learn that quickly. That said, if we get ahead it won’t take much for their fans to turn on them because they really fancy themselves to beat us. If we can keep another clean sheet and frustrate them, we have the players to nick a goal. It might not be that exciting, but the three points are all that matters imo. One thing guaranteed is that they’ll be well up for this game and we need to match them. No doubt Rafa has a cunning plan – more cunning than a barrel full of foxes. I’d take a draw, but a win wouldn’t surprise me.

  • 8 jayphoto // Sep 22, 2016 at 1:36 PM

    @Essex – you not seen us this season? Id say no one is a cert. Maybe, just maybe, Sels might be, but even then I wouldn’t bet my house on it. Who knows who rafas gonna play

  • 9 Lee Charnley Bunga Party // Sep 22, 2016 at 1:36 PM

    Villa have a good forward line possibly when they click they might be better than our options but I think we have a better squad with us having better defenders and midfielders!

    If we can get at them and press them the way we did against QPR they could also crumble at the back might be better than letting them have the ball and attack us for 90 minutes !

  • 10 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 1:44 PM

    Jay, I think he’ll go with Sels as well, although I felt safer with Darlow in goal the other night than I have with Sels so far. He seems to be an accident just waiting to happen. Then again, with Rafa, you just never know! 🙂

  • 11 Essex Geordie Bill // Sep 22, 2016 at 1:48 PM

    As I said the only players ‘I’ see as certs are the six I’ve mentioned but as you (and I) say you just don’t know what he’ll pick on the day.

    I suspect he will pick Sels, so I’ll probably go for him but I’d rather see Darlow play.

  • 12 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 1:52 PM

    Here we go jail, let’s have a crack at Rafa’s bingo for the first time. I can get it wrong as good as everybody else! 🙂


    Yedlin Lascelles Mbemba Clark

    Shelvey Colback

    Gouffran Diame Ritchie


    This is confirmed – right or wrong 🙂

  • 13 Jail for Ashley // Sep 22, 2016 at 1:53 PM

    What I’m loving about this rotation policy is the fact that teams that are putting out kids and fringe players for cup games where as we might see a team not to dissimilar to the other night in a league game, it is hard to argue what our best eleven is. I most definitely think we will win a cup under Rafa the gaffa.

  • 14 Jail for Ashley // Sep 22, 2016 at 1:58 PM

    The best I’ve done Bobbybee is a nine, it’ll get a bit easier when injuries or suspensions start kicking in, for example he may have put Anita or Yedlin is as RB, now I definitely think we’ll see Yedlin in for the next two games.

  • 15 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:02 PM

    Jail, that’s why I’m happy with the rotation sýstem mate, the fact that there’s not really a definite first choice team. Nobody can relax and think ‘I’ll play regardless. Maybe Ritchie is almost a knocking bet, simply because he’s definitely our best player and the one most likely to create or score goals. By the time we get to January and other teams are struggling with injuries and tiredness, our lot will still be going strong. It might look a bit haphazard at the moment, but later on it will show how right he’s been.

  • 16 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:06 PM

    Aye, I think Yedlin is a starter, but then again he can always shift Mbemba out wide and move Clark or Handley into CB. Which, of courze, makes picking a side even harder! 🙂

  • 17 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:08 PM

    Courze? Of course! 🙂

  • 18 Ron Knee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:10 PM

    Under Rafa, have we scored first then gone on to lose the match? Anybody know?

  • 19 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:15 PM

    Ron, don’t think so mate. That said, we ain’t won when conceding first either.

  • 20 Ron Knee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:20 PM


    That’s my point. It’s vital that we score first. Under Rafa the team is pretty good at managing the match, if they’re ahead.

  • 21 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:20 PM

    Might be worth giving Diame and The Gouff role reversals, with Diame out wide and The Gouff playing just behind Gayle. With The Gouff having found his scoring boots he might be better off in the middle, where he’ll get more chance to score. Just a thought.

  • 22 Our Toon // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:20 PM

    I’d play dummett at LB ahead of Clark as Villa have pace out wide, dummett can cope, Clark would get ripped apart.

    I’m not a fan of rotation policy, it does no favours to those in form, doesn’t give any sort of continuity and disrupts any rhythm that can be generated by picking up wins….constantly changing keeps players on there toes is one way of looking at it but another perspective would be that I’m not playing today but will be next game irrelevant of how I perform or I’m playing today but will be dropped irrelevant of how I perform.

    At some point you have to stick with a core number that you trust to do a job and as soon as bad form creeps in then out the firing line with another player coming in. I think in the long run this has a negative impact

  • 23 Our Toon // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:23 PM

    As Guardiola said if you tell players they are tired and keep resting them then they have an excuse but when you are winning 3 and 4 nil then no one speaks of tiredness….. he’s clearly a man who doesn’t believe in the tiredness.

  • 24 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:23 PM

    Ron, if we keep on keeping clean sheets, then we’re almost certain to score first. Never thought i’d see us keeping this many clean sheets in a season – and it’s only just started. 🙂

  • 25 JamesToon // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:25 PM

    I think weve got a bit of a headache about what the defence is gonna be.

    yedlin will definitely start at right back. Lascelles will definitely start. But do we partner lascelles with hanley and mbemba sit this one out as he was awful at the weekend? Or will he be better so he can deal with the pace of ayew/kodjia? And do we give clark a go considering hes been decent recently, either at CB or LB? But the atmosphere may very hostile for him and could effect him?

    I think im gonna go with:

    Sels (although i’d rather have darlow)





    Main reason i think we should go with a triangle of hayden/shelvey/diame is because i think gayle would be good to have pace in behind as villa will try and attack us, plus i still don’t think mitro is quite up to speed yet. Heard a lot villa fans saying that their centre midfield is very weak, both in terms of physicality and quality. We can dominate the midfield which could give us the upper hand of the game. So thats why i’d play them 3

  • 26 Ron Knee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:27 PM


    On current form, I’d rather see Darlow between the sticks.

  • 27 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:28 PM

    Our Toon, but this is what Rafa has always done throughout his career and it’s served him well. The advantages will come later in the season when clubs who play the same side week in week out are struggling with injuries and fatigue. It’s not like we’re something special that he should change his very successful formula to suit some of our fans.

  • 28 JamesToon // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:29 PM

    Our toon

    Could say though we beat bristol 1-0 and Clark had Kodjia in his back pocket really. But yes i think it would be safer to go with dummett as clark will get boo’d anyway.

    Its debateable about the rotation policy, imo it keeps players on their toes and also shows that rafa isn’t afraid to drop those out of form, also keeps a large squad relatively happy, but yes there are cons.

    Massive problem last year was that players like Gini/Sissoko/Coloccini knew they didn’t have to put in 100% every game because they knew they were guaranteed starters due to the significant lack of quality and strength in depth

  • 29 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:31 PM

    Ron, absolutely mate, so would I, but in trying to second guess Rafa I think he’s happy with Sels right now. Darlow would be my choice – especially after the other night, where he looked very sound and secure.

  • 30 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:39 PM

    The team i’ve selected isn’t my choice of a first eleven, I’ve gone with what I think Rafa will go with – which is surely the whole point in the bingo game innit? 🙂

  • 31 lochinvar // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    Good luck with this then……if it doesn’t work out then there’s always the Mackems who will be looking for a new manager shortly…

    Veteran correspondent Alan Nixon claims that QPR are looking to bring Steve McClaren in to play a senior off-field role – sort of a director of football position – alongside Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who has overseen three straight defeats at Loftus Road.

    It claims: “McClaren is out of work since a disastrous spell at Newcastle United but Rangers think he could turn their campaign round.

  • 32 firebug666 // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    Ok Jail 5 points this time 😀

    Confirmed Rafa Bingo Lineup


    Yedlin, Lascelles. Clark, Dummet

    Shelvey, Hayden

    Richie, Diame, Gouffran


    So if Rafa stays true to form this lineup should be close, although not who I would pick, but as we all know Rafa is the gaffa.

  • 33 Budge123 // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:43 PM

    Hope we start with Murphy or Mitro upfront in stead of Gayle. I’d image we are going to sit and let villa come on to us and need an outlet of a big man up top maybe?

    BobbyB – do you have any stats to back up the claim that rotation will be of benefit at back end of season when other teams tired and pick up injuries? Do Rafa’s teams have a better late season points per game ratio than teams that play predominantly same team week in week out?

    I want to buy in to rotation and trust Rafa but it doesn’t seem the best way forward to me. If you’ve got anything that backs up your claim I’d be interested to see it.

  • 34 Budge123 // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:46 PM

    Just on stevie mac – did you see he had gone back to college to do some economic type course so he could become ceo or similar at a club! Seems odd but then again you would imagine his chances of management are slim?

  • 35 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:46 PM

    James, that’s why I’ve gone with Clark at left back – because he’s already tied up Kodjia once this season. I can’t see that escaping Rafa’s notice. I think he just goes with horses for courses myself. No doubt there’ll be times when he does field the same team twice running, when he feels it’s right. I don’t think he does it just to mess up the bingo game! 🙂

  • 36 WWSBRD // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:52 PM

    Rafa Bingo
    Sels (disappointingly)
    Yedlin Mbemba Lascelles Dummett
    Hayden Shelvey
    Ritchie Diame Goofy

  • 37 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:54 PM

    Budge, the evidence imo is his success rate. He’s done this everywhere he’s managed up to now mate and nobody can argue he hasn’t been successful. I just took it for granted that everybody knew that this is how he does things, because he always has. I’ve not followed him that closely, but even I knew he’d be like this. He’s always done it his way and I just can’t see him changing now. That’s why he’s assembled the players he has imo, so he can chop and change. As stated earlier, the real benefit will show later on in the season, when all the players have had game time and experience and are capable of coming in at the drop of a hat – Ritchie’s magic hat probably. 🙂

  • 38 Essex Geordie Bill // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:54 PM

    Our Toon

    As I said the other day none of our players should be complaining they’r tired. They probably train harder than they have to play on match days.

    I’d doubt very much if any of them are going up to Rafa saying I’m tired can I have the day of Gaffa. 🙂

  • 39 Essex Geordie Bill // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:58 PM

    No body picking Colback, I will, but I won’t pick a team till match day in case someone falls over getting out of the refuse bins ice baths. 🙂

  • 40 WWSBRD // Sep 22, 2016 at 2:59 PM

    Ah nuts we are away arent we? Nuts should of had Colback in there damnit

  • 41 Budge123 // Sep 22, 2016 at 3:01 PM

    Cheers for the response Bobby.
    Rafa success is mostly cup based (and great it is). He’s had limited league success considering the teams he’s managed.
    That’s my concern. His preferred method of rotation may not give us the best chance of promotion?
    I’m not disagreeing that he will rotate just want something to convince me it’s to our league benefit to rotate.

    I’ll have to suspend doubt and just trust!

  • 42 Bobbybee // Sep 22, 2016 at 3:02 PM

    Bloody hell. Taxi service required again. 🙂 Got a nice new car my son could get insured on, if he just passed his test. I’d have jumped at the chance when I was his age, but he’s just not interested for some reason. Likes the advantages of the car, as long as it’s me driving! 🙂 The things we do for love eh? Later lads.

  • 43 firebug666 // Sep 22, 2016 at 3:02 PM


    I don’t think it matters if we are away or not marra, Rafa just keeps on bamboozling us with his team selections, If you did change it now you might just miss out of 5 points. 😀

  • 44 davis_toons // Sep 22, 2016 at 3:02 PM

    Shelvey and Diamé needs to be offensive in order to us to get goals.

  • 45 WWSBRD // Sep 22, 2016 at 3:06 PM

    True but I think Colback in big away games is more likely than not, hes more robust than Hayden and will do the nastier stuff

    I wont change my line up its meant to be a one shot guess so thats mine haha I just reckon its wrong

  • 46 manxpie // Sep 22, 2016 at 3:08 PM

    Rafa Bingo
    Yedlin Mbemba Lascelles Dummett
    Colback Shelvey
    Ritchie Diame Goofy

  • 47 firebug666 // Sep 22, 2016 at 3:09 PM


    Pretty much the same as mine mate, only difference is Mbemba for Clark, looks like Colback could do for us both, I knew I shouldn’t like him!

  • 48 WWSBRD // Sep 22, 2016 at 3:12 PM

    No Mbemba? Haha I wouldn’t begrudge Colback ruining peoples teams haha

  • 49 firebug666 // Sep 22, 2016 at 3:16 PM



    I shall be quietly confident (until Saturday) that I have 5 points in the bag, and then curse the name of Colback, unless he gives us a good 90 minute performance that is.

  • 50 WWSBRD // Sep 22, 2016 at 3:24 PM

    Haha confidence is key mate

  • 51 Jib // Sep 22, 2016 at 4:30 PM

    £10 for adults, £3 for kids for the EFL Cup game v Preston.

    That should guarantee a capacity crowd !

  • 52 lesh // Sep 22, 2016 at 4:36 PM


    That’s kids for you. Don’t try to second guess ’em and spend your coin on yourself and Mrs Bobbybee. You can’t tek it with ya can ye so enjoy it.

  • 53 lochinvar // Sep 22, 2016 at 4:36 PM

    Jail here you are – this weeks Rafa bingo call

    Yedlin Mbemba Lascelles Dummett
    Colback Shelvey
    Ritchie Diame Gouffran

  • 54 Jib // Sep 22, 2016 at 4:46 PM

    Steve McClaren is to work in a senior position with QPR to help his friend Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who has found the step up to the Championship difficult.

previous post: New Signing Doing What He Wanted To Do – Improve His Game

next post: What Rafa Told The Players At Half Time On Tuesday Night