Rafa – This Player Shows He’s Good Every Single Week

Ciaran Clark had his third solid game in a row for Newcastle at Rotherham United on Saturday – where the Millers showed they are so much better than a bottom of the league side – and as it turns out they had just lost on Tuesday night to high-flying Huddersfield by a close score of 2-1.

That’s two good displays by Rotherham in succession for no return.


Ciaran Clark – showing he’s a good player every week

The thing we liked about Newcastle when they were under severe pressure in those first 20 minutes at the New York Stadium and at the end when Rotherham were pushing for an equalizer – was that the players were cool and calm for the most part.

They certainly knew exactly what they had to do in every situation and our lads looked well-drilled – which we suppose shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise with Rafa in charge.

Maybe those last five minutes were a little bit too hectic at times, but we didn’t want to lose 2 points at the death like we did at Villa Park the weekend before.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has talked a little bit about center-back Ciaran Clark and the qualities he brings to the side.

Rafa was asked to comment on the former Villa defender’s display and this is what he had to say:

“He’s a player with experience. And also, because he’s left-footed, he can give us a little balance by playing balls out from the back with his left foot.”

”When we brought him here, we knew that he had experience of the Premier League, and so we knew we were signing a good player.”

“He is showing that every week.”

At only £5M Ciaran is quickly looking like an excellent acquisition for Newcastle.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

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35 comments so far

  • Belfast

    Oct 3, 2016 at 8:16 PM

    Comment #1

    International blog death week – night one

  • GeordieGadie

    Oct 3, 2016 at 8:17 PM

    Comment #2

    I knew he was superb because of the pain the villains suffered at his departure, you can only see him going one way and that’s upwards.

    Thing is with Mbemba and Lascelles there, who is going to sit down and let him benefit this great geordie nation?

    Very hard to think of playing 3 centre backs, and there’s a problem to get our only other leftfooter (Lazaar) into the team already.

    Shall we play him left back? no idea, but Rafa knows best I guess

  • Belfast

    Oct 3, 2016 at 8:20 PM

    Comment #3

    Aye I must say he’s been a lot better than most expected. Looking a shrewd singing now.

  • GeordieTwo

    Oct 3, 2016 at 8:22 PM

    Comment #4

    Have to agree Clark has been a good buy. I’m a bit disappointed by Hanley and Mbemba needs playing time but not at the expense of goals against. We still have some way to go in terms of defending.

  • magscar

    Oct 3, 2016 at 8:31 PM

    Comment #5

    Not sure how he would fare for us in PL if we get there but is keeping Mbemba out on merit right now. Expect him to be rotated for Brentford 🙂

  • Average_Contents

    Oct 3, 2016 at 8:32 PM

    Comment #6


    Shoddy customer service.

    Yeah, doing my usual. Are you suprised.


    Shame. Is he gonna survive? I hope so.

  • magscar

    Oct 3, 2016 at 8:34 PM

    Comment #7


    I was surprised at lack of appearances by Hanley considering the drawn out but determined pursuit of him. Was Clark available then or an afterthought?

  • AncientC

    Oct 3, 2016 at 8:39 PM

    Comment #8

    Ritchie & Shelvey have created 42 (21 each) chances between them so far – rather impressive. It’s imperative that the club finds another playmaker, if it is to be Premier League football next season.

    It may be a bit early to discuss this, but I would not want to see Diame at the club in the Premier League. Diame will have 2 years left on his contract in the summer, the perfect time to sell. I just hope Diame’s wages are not too high, or he will be going nowhere.

  • magscar

    Oct 3, 2016 at 8:56 PM

    Comment #9


    I think a few Pl clubs were supposedly interested in Diame even though he had a reputation for blowing hot and cold – a poor man’s Sissoko (in Fee terms).

    I was expecting him to come good but have been disappointed with his contributions so far but he is being played out of his best position.

    I shouldn’t think we would have trouble shifting him at end of season if we did want to upgrade though.

    Still hoping he can get a run from CM which seems to be his favoured position and be a success. There is much competition there though and I feel he would most likely be a replacement for Shelvey given others. Not so great and both together would diminish one or both. Perhaps Rafa can work his magic on training ground?

  • AncientC

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:19 PM

    Comment #10

    Diame was being linked with Arsenal at one point, but that was when he was playing further back in the midfield. It would appear that the position in behind the striker, seems to be our weakest position for cover at the moment.

    Hopefully Benitez will be let loose to raid the Spanish market in the summer, if the club is in the Premier League.

  • Jimmy……Jimmy……Jimmy Smith

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:29 PM

    Comment #11

    I think the problem is that we have 4 players in Mitro, Perez, Gayle and Diame for two positions and only two in Mitro and Perez who are truly suited to the system Rafa plays, but Gayle has the shirt and is scoring and running around admirably in the process, and Diame has the greater achievement as a player compared to Perez, if not as a number 10. I would prefer he go with Mitrovic, Perez and Lazaar at left back, but he seemingly sees Diame, Gayle and Dummett as the percentage call.

  • MadisonToon

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:38 PM

    Comment #12

    Anyone else think Armstrong in the hole would have been worth a few cup games/weak league games to see how it went? I feel like he could make good runs from there and also has good close control which would suit him well in that position. Maybe I’m over-inflating his ability, but I think it would have been interesting to see if we hadn’t sent him on loan.

  • magscar

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:38 PM

    Comment #13


    I can’t see why a pairing of Mitro with Gayle in behind couldn’t work as I have said earlier. Can’t recall it has figured so far.

    Rafa did seem to like Sissoko as a no 10 as well so perhaps it is where he fits in his system rather than just shoehorning him in?

  • Jimmy……Jimmy……Jimmy Smith

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:38 PM

    Comment #14

    Gayle and Perez wasn’t effective enough. He has chosen not to pair Gayle and Mitro for undisclosed reasons. Gayle doesn’t deserve to be dropped, while Diame perhaps does deserve to be dropped, but with Gayle up top we don’t have another viable option behind him.

  • magscar

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:40 PM

    Comment #15


    I think Armstrong’s development is better suited to being on loan rather than as a bit part for us. Having said that not sure how many game minutes he is regularly getting.

  • magscar

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:43 PM

    Comment #16

    All I can think re Mitro is given how opposition is set up in most games Rafa wants pace and movement up front and Gayle more closely fits that. Perez is struggling to impose himself in side at moment.

  • Mister Tuff

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:45 PM

    Comment #17

    State of the Nation!

    So far with nearly a quarter of the season gone we are in a very decent position.
    I think as a team over the coming months we will improve as a team and thus maintain a position near the top if not top.
    A footballer on a decent run will not like being rotated (dropped) – can Benitez keep everyone happy. Have they all bought into his rotation policy?
    We will become a better team – as the jigsaw pieces will be further schooled on their responsibilities and improve – as part of “a team” not necessarily as individual players.

    Downside – powder puff attack – can only see this improving with more of an understanding with for example Shelvey giving Gayle top class balls over the top/through the defence to chase.

    Football – not the most scintillating and certainly a mile away from PL standards. But who cares when the primary object is to get out this division.

    Overall – reasonably satisfied – so far.

    Nice to see everyone being courteous.

  • Jimmy……Jimmy……Jimmy Smith

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:49 PM

    Comment #18

    I think Mitro and Perez need to wait for there chance and take it. Either through, suspension, injury, loss of form, rotation, or simply by Mitro earning his opportunity with strong showings off the bench, one way or another it’ll happen. Mitro, Perez and Shelvey were splendid against QPR. I think the situation can be traced back to Mitro’s suspension, which gave Gayle the shirt.

  • MadisonToon

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:49 PM

    Comment #19

    I think he is better suited on loan but I’m excited for him to eventually enter the fold of the team as I do think he’ll be quite good.

    I think Mitro will end up getting more game time when Gayle goes off the boil a bit. Crosses from Atsu and Ritchie will suit Mitro quite nicely and he does a really good job of controlling aerial balls to others who are coming into the play and should get a few assists out of it to either a second forward (if it ever gets tried) or to the wingers, Shelvey or Diame.

  • magscar

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:57 PM

    Comment #20


    Having the shirt doesn’t necessarily trump Rafa’s rotation system though. Key to its success and as referred to by Tuff is keeping all happy. As far as I recall all players have been rested at least once so shouldn’t be any concerns as yet about favouritism. Anita apart from suspension may have figured in all for which he was available though but haven’t checked

  • MadisonToon

    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:01 PM

    Comment #21

    Jimmy –

    I think you’re right in regards to Mitro, Shelvey and Perez working well together. I think Mitro, Shelvey and Gayle could even be an improvement but Rafa will have to think so for us to see it.

    Mitro should be causing Rafa a bit of a selection headache as he has been subbed in for each of the last four games and has shown up reasonably well during that time, clearly he’s close to starting. I do think he would be best suited to being a target man with Gayle running off him either from the hole or with 2 up front but Rafa’s been consistently sticking with his 4-5-1 and may not budge too much from that.

    Oh well, a long international break to muse about ifs and buts looms large.

  • magscar

    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:02 PM

    Comment #22

    Cold Feet finished may be needed for conversation 🙂

    night all

  • Jimmy……Jimmy……Jimmy Smith

    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:04 PM

    Comment #23

    Well I don’t see the rotation that others seem too. I see the pairing of Gayle and Diame being consistently picked, in preference to the only other viable pairing of Mitro or Murphy and Perez, in what appears a clear choice between the two.

  • Yo-yo

    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:15 PM

    Comment #24

    Mr T

    I’m not sure that players in form will be too bothered about playing 1 in 2 when we are playing twice a week. Nobody will want to burn out – remember what Pards did and how our injury list just got worse and worse.
    I do think they all know they are going to be rotated and that its not like being dropped, so the pride thing shouldn’t come into it.

  • Jib

    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:29 PM

    Comment #25

    The mystery of the non-appearance of Daryl Murphy over the last few games solved.


    He’s been injured since playing against Wolves and has had to cry off the Ireland squad.

  • Jib

    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:31 PM

    Comment #26

    I hope the distinction of having so many internationals in the Championship doesn’t bite us in the ass !

  • Mister Tuff

    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:47 PM

    Comment #27

    Yoyo – if the players have bought into it as you suggest there should not be any problems.
    Recall about 6 months ago – Shearer criticising – either Man C or Englands rotation – good player on form/on a run does not really want to be dropped’

    As others have alluded to on here – the big squad/2 players for each position should reap rewards when other teams start to pick up injuries due to the cold or being physically vulnerable/worn out.

    So far Benitez seems to be covering most bases.

  • Tsunki

    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:34 PM

    Comment #28

    Repost for those who think it’s not really a fair rotation Rafa is implementing –

    Tsunki // Oct 3, 2016 at 1:09 PM

    Not sure about rotation, Jimmy? By my quick scanning I make it 24 out of 27 squad members have made a first team appearance so far this season, and only 7 have made less than 5. That looks pretty rotatey to me. 🙂

  • Tsunki

    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:38 PM

    Comment #29

    The whole point of rotation is that to make sure it’s not perceived as being dropped, it has to be seen as reasonably even-handed with everyone or nearly everyone able to stake their claim to a regular playing spot, not the pseudo-trialling of being wedged in as a make weight in a nothing cup round. I believe Rafa has done that. I’m sure, being a savvy guy and all that, he knows what his strongest 11 is, but that’s all academic until the seasons attrition kicks in properly.

  • Jimmy……Jimmy……Jimmy Smith

    Oct 4, 2016 at 12:08 AM

    Comment #30

    I just think there’s not as much rotation in the starting 11 as people seem to think. There are a number of regular starters, Gayle, Diame and Dummett among them, and my preference would be for Mitro/Perez, or Mitro/Gayle, and Lazaar and I think they’ll force there way into that preferred group that does get more minutes.

  • Jimmy……Jimmy……Jimmy Smith

    Oct 4, 2016 at 5:02 AM

    Comment #31

    Clark has a left foot. Lazaar has a left foot. So few players do. That in itself surely means they’ll come to the fore on the left side of our defence. Add to that that Gouffran naturally plays on the inside of his man leaving acres of space for a naturally attacking left footed left back to exploit on the outside to get behind defences and create havoc. Rafa, I love ya man, but let’s gohhhhh!!!!!!

  • cyprus

    Oct 4, 2016 at 5:36 AM

    Comment #32

    Good player, good pairing with Lascelles. FBs also improving, so the goalie position needs to be settled. Is this Sels going to step up? Surely they saw something there. For now, if he’s ok, I’d give the shirt to Elliott.

  • Tsunki

    Oct 4, 2016 at 7:25 AM

    Comment #33

    I see the Barnsley game is the first away since that stupid darlo match to go on open sale.

  • funlovingexpress

    Oct 4, 2016 at 7:29 AM

    Comment #34

    All players have strengths and weaknesses. I hope we remember these games when he comes against a player he can’t handle and looks bad because of it.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Oct 4, 2016 at 7:44 AM

    Comment #35

    Rafa gave an excellent explanation why it was better Armstrong went on loan. My take ois that at Barnsley he’s just a prospect on loan where as here he’s the next Alan Shearer. He was given a chance pre season and it was thought he’d be better on loan, the fact he was given a new deal shows they think he has a future here.


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