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

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Difference: How Rafa Picks A Team And How England Do It

1:39 pm, Monday, October 3rd, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 11 Comments

At Newcastle in the past when we brought in some highly paid player they were almost guaranteed a starting position in the team.

So if there was ever a choice between say an up-and-coming younger and a star player we paid big bucks for and we were paying ridiculous wages to – the youngster didn’t have a chance.

rafa benitez training

Rafa Benitez – Newcastle manager

And even if the star continued to play poorly they still started every game – just think Sissoko and Wijnaldum in away games last season.

Well that is until Rafa came in and dropped Wijnaldum and somehow magically got Moussa Sissoko to start playing well after he had named him as his captain.

Rafa seems to pick a player more on how the player looks in training and what their attitude is – and it seems to work well – although his team choices are extremely difficult to guess before the games – almost impossible in fact.


Newcastle’s old way of picking the team is also how England have picked their teams and as former player Kieron Dyer has said yesterday the team is picked more on reputation than on how well they actually play for England.

This is what Kieron said on the Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday show:

“I think the problem with England, even when I was playing and still today, is it’s picked on reputation and not on form and it’s got to be a brave manager who breaks that mold.” 

“Kevin Keegan was one of those managers who were a bit off the cuff. If you trained well, he played you.

“I turned up for the England v Luxembourg game and I wasn’t in his plans but I was in the squad, but because I had a good week in training he played me from the start.”

So there’s a case where Kevin picked a player (Kieron) based on how he looked in training – just like Rafa does.

Kieron is not the first one to mention that players are selected for England based on their name – and that’s essentially how Roy Hodgson picked the England squad for last summer’s Euro 2016 in France.

I’ll say no more.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Tags: Coaching · England News · International break · International News · Newcastle News · Other News

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bobbybee // Oct 3, 2016 at 1:46 PM

    Ha ha, missed the bus again. Some things never change.

  • 2 magscar // Oct 3, 2016 at 1:47 PM

    Not again Ed

    magscar // Oct 3, 2016 at 1:45 PM

    On football which I prefer – the thing about rotation which acknowledges fitness levels, opposition, length of the season etc it can also not take account of “get the shirt and keep it” and need for players to play into form.

    I am sure Rafa is well aware of this and factors into his selections. I am still bemused a little by the lack of much playing time for other than Gayle and Diame. Is it Mitro’s lack of match fitness or doesn’t he fancy him?

    Looks as though what many see as a good compromise of Mitro with Gayle behind just doesn’t figure? Must be something in training that doesn’t gel?

    One of my forecasts in Martoon’s poll (top Scorer Mitro) is seriously under threat and I can only think Rafa has it in for me ?

  • 3 Ruddy Marveaux-lous // Oct 3, 2016 at 1:51 PM

    Bobby from previous thread

    I’m afraid 2 relegations, dragging our club into the mire and making us a laughing stock is hard to forget nevermind forgive. I will never forgive Mike Ashley and I long for the day he leaves our great club. I am glad we’ve got Rafa to distract us with some decent on-field activity but that’s all it is – a distraction.

    MA is always 1 step away from a c**k up of epic proportions and he has ensured that I’ll never trust a single thing that he does. I will enjoy Rafa’s time here and I do long to be proven wrong, but too much water has gone under the bridge I’m afraid.

  • 4 Jail for Ashley // Oct 3, 2016 at 1:53 PM

    I’ve never understood the pro Pardew lot which is strange as I was very pro Pardew myself after we finished fifth, it was when I realised he was in cahoots with the owner to see us as a non competitive nonentity that I changed my mind, that and the 0-6 humping of Lpool. I really don’t get the way Mag52 worships the guy while at the same time being seriously anti Ashley. Pardew was fully signed up to the no cups policy and took an eight year deal knowing that he would never win anything while managing here, it is criminal and just as corrupt as any of Fat Sams dealings.

  • 5 Bobbybee // Oct 3, 2016 at 1:54 PM

    Mags, can’t make my mind up about Mitro. Love his passion and commitment though. With Rafa prefering 4231 I think he must rate Gayle ahead of Mitro at the moment. He does use him well though, as Wednesday night proved.

  • 6 Bobbybee // Oct 3, 2016 at 2:00 PM

    Ruddy… I know! 🙂

    Jail, I for one will always give our new manager backing. Always have, because his success reflects ours. I want them to do well. That said, there always comes a time when they fail and then they’re fair game. I’ve wanted all our previous managers to work, even when I knew deep down it wouldn’t happen, but fans only turn on a manager if there’s good reason. Or should. There was plenty reason to turn on pardew in the end.

  • 7 Tsunki // Oct 3, 2016 at 2:09 PM

    Tbf though Mr Pardew was just average. He had that going for him. I’m sure many CL quality managers would love to be half as adequately samey as him.

  • 8 Bobbybee // Oct 3, 2016 at 2:09 PM

    Oh well, things to do. Later.

  • 9 magscar // Oct 3, 2016 at 2:09 PM


    Mitro is possibly in Rafa’s mind in the longer term – he is still young as well as inexperienced with a reckless approach at times. If it is match practice though then you would assume he would be given more than 20 minutes here and there? His mobility is something else that needs work though.

    Is he perservering with Diame because he lnows he is playing outside of his best position ( uncomplainingly) in a spot (No10) he is still struggling to find the complete player for? I can’t help but think Gayle could figure in there but presumably various combinations have been tried out in training and he favours Gayle and Diame at present.

    Then again we have been through what I felt some weeks ago was a very difficult run of fixtures and he has gone with experience for those games much as he did with Cisse last season on the difficult run in?

  • 10 bettyswallocks // Oct 3, 2016 at 2:13 PM

    Rafa will have ambitions for our club far greater than winning promotion and then just surviving and making the numbers up.

    I’m sure it will have been discussed before Rafa agreed to stay what ambitions he and the club hold and whether funds will be made available to fulfil them. Rafa likes winning as he has stated regularly and unlike the foolish suggestion that was made he is not here just for the money.

  • 11 Jail for Ashley // Oct 3, 2016 at 2:18 PM

    People are saying that we should have got a better striker but look what 12M gets you in the Championship, a Roos McCormack who is nearly thirty and definitely not guaranteed to make it in the PL, (which is just as well as he isn’t going to get there), a very good striker does not want to play at a lower level, a 30M pound striker wants to play in the CL not the Championship.

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