Manager Explains His Team Selection For Aston Villa

Chancel Mbemba didn’t play on  Tuesday night in the 2-0 win over Wolves and he wasn’t even on the bench for Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Aston Villa on the road.

The central defense pairing Rafa chose for this game were Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark and big Grant Hanley was on the bench after both Ciaran and Grant played so well together on Tuesday night at St. James’ Park.

chancel mbemba rafa benitez

Chancel Mbemba and Rafa Benitez

Rafa thought that Hanley’s extra height and strength may come in handy at some point during the game, but as it happened Grant didn’t get on.

Benitez was asked why Chancel Mbemba was not in the squad after the game on Saturday:

“He was fine. “I thought for maybe these kind of games Hanley could help in the last minutes, but I did not want to make a change in the last minute because we were defending more or less.”

“And to put another player, another defender, would be to invite them to continue attacking.”

“I thought we could create something on the counter-attack, but that was not the case.” “To have Hanley on the bench instead of Mbemba was because the size of him is strong.”

“I wanted to have another option just in case.”

“If I decide to change players, it is not because someone has made a mistake or missed a chance.”

“Especially with the strikers. It is because they have to do a job. “This was a game for Dwight Gayle.”

“We have seen it was a game for him because he had a lot of chances. “Maybe the next one is for him, or maybe Mitro, or maybe Daryl Murphy.”

“I think it is not a question of if they miss a chance then you have to change it. “It is a question of if they work hard for the team then the strikers will score goals because they are good enough.”

With such a good squad of around 25 players, there are times when very good players who have been first team regulars – like Cancel Mbemba as just one example – will not even make the bench.

So that is a man-management challenge for the manager to keep the players happy.

It will not be easy, but there again Rafa has massive experience of managing players at the very top of their game and at the top of the football ladder.

Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Steven Gerrard to name just three examples.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

7 comments so far

  • posada

    Sep 26, 2016 at 8:11 AM

    Comment #1

    Fed up with all this Benitez thinks this and then he thinks that.
    For me it’s all just hype. He’s had more resources put at his disposal than any other championship manager. So now he should come up with the results. It’s that simple.
    NUFC is like a Gentleman’s club. I played this week over to you for next week.
    I don’t think his rotation policy works and I don’t think it is necessary to the extent he is using it.
    We need strikers who are confident and play every week.

  • sing in the corner

    Sep 26, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    Comment #2

    I have to say Ed, I don’t agree with your Cancel Mbemba comment. He’s not been here that long…

  • toontaff2

    Sep 26, 2016 at 8:13 AM

    Comment #3

    Mbemba was not in most bingo line-ups after his own goal.

  • Sav

    Sep 26, 2016 at 10:09 AM

    Comment #4

    He’ll have to be in at right-back on Wednesday anyway, like it or not. Good player. But the perception, regarldess of what Rafa says. will be ‘I was dropped because of the OG’.

  • NoahJ

    Sep 26, 2016 at 11:24 AM

    Comment #5

    I’m also getting a little fed up with the rotation policy. I do think it might help us over the course of the season, but what’s the point of that if it comes at the expense of the here and now?

    we need a first choice back 4 (and hopefully that will help Sels sort himself out too), and for me, we need a fixed-term striker. Stikers live by form, so being in and out of the team regardless of how well you play the previous week, is just stupid in my opinion

  • Malta Mag

    Sep 26, 2016 at 12:51 PM

    Comment #6

    I wondered how long it would be before the doom and gloom merchants came out of hiding.
    I for one love the rotation policy and think it’s essential to see us over the finishing line. If a good system is in place where everyone knows their role then there is no problem. Watch the game again v Villa and ask yourself when the last time you saw a Newcastle team in such complete control. Same as QPR although you could argue under more difficult circumstances?
    The only thing that spoilt the day was our finishing, end of. As for Villa arguing they are bigger than us then just look at the gate and it says it all regardless of league position.
    Rafa will get us promotion and prove those miserable minority out there that his policies have worked.
    Long live the Fat Spanish Waiter!!!!

  • NoahJ

    Sep 26, 2016 at 1:49 PM

    Comment #7


    There’s a difference between pessimism and realism. I can find dozens of positives in the match (we were very impressive in the first half), but it’s important to identify the negatives too, as that’s what has ultimately cost us 2 points. My honest opinion is that rotation is a good thing, but to rotate the entire team constantly prevents any continuity- I think that showed in our inability to close the match on saturday.

    by all means rotate 2 or 3 players, but you need a strong continous core


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