It was refreshing in the summer when Rafa Benitez targeted a number of British players and he did that after learning as much as he could about the Championship, which is a very physical and a very tough league – one of the toughest leagues in the world.
Rafa wanted players who were used to playing in English football and he brought in players like Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle, Isaac Hayden, Ciaran Clark, Grant Hanley and Daryl Murphy.
Matt Ritchie – one of the British players signed by Rafa this summer
Rafa has talked today about his decision to target British (and Irish) players during the summer:
“We knew the Championship is so difficult that we needed players with experience of the Championship and of English football.”
“What’s good is the British players – or players with Championship experience – they knew already about the physicality, the importance of every contact.”
“It was important to get players with knowledge of this side of the game to add to our quality and to what we already had.”
“We have brought some experienced players in, so now I think we have enough experience, young players and talent, that we have a good mix.”
“You want to prepare a team to be compact, and you want to compete.” “Will it be more physical than the Premier League?”
“Yeah, it could be.”
“Then you have players with experience in the Championship and you hope that they can cope with the intensity and the physicality.”
Newcastle already had British players in the squad such as Jonjo Shelvey, Paul Dummett, Jack Colback, Rob Elliot, Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles so we now have quite a big base of British players – which is very different from the squad of the the last eight years, when we had far too many French players.
If we can attain our major goal this season and get promoted back to the Premier League in May, it will be very interesting to see what kind of players Newcastle will sign in the summer.
We discussed some of that in an earlier article today.
What do you think?