Rafa Benitez seems to take in a lot of different things before he decides is a player will start a game for Newcastle and that includes a number of different things.
It includes how he does in training during the week and what hos form is like and how well the player has applied himself that week.
Rafa also seems to want to know what the mental state of the player is and whether the player will be motivated if he plays in the game.
Rafa Benitez in training mingling with the players
Rafa’s rotation policy is a bit controversial with former Newcastle great Rob Lee writing in the Chronicle only yesterday that he would have hated it, because he wanted to play in every single game.
Certainly that was the way not so long ago when managers typically played their best teams in almost every game.
But it’s more of a squad game these days especially when you are successful in the Premier League and playing in Europe and playing two games a week.
Or you have dropped down to the Championship – like Newcastle this season – and playing two games a week a lot of the time.
This is some of what Rafa has said about the mental state of players before a game:
“If you are going to the Nou Camp to play Barcelona, it doesn’t matter who you pick because everybody will be very motivated.”
“But if you are playing against a small team away, although your star player might be able to win the game by himself, maybe he doesn’t want to be there or he is not comfortable.”
“You have to be sure that you find the right balance between players who are playing already and doing well, and players that want to prove themselves and compete.”
Rafa seems to use all his man-management skills at Newcastle and part of that is knowing which players to play in each of the games.
So far we have done quite well picking up an average of 2 points a game in the league so far this season.
Now Rafa has to pick the players who can get us 3 points at home to a good-looking Brentford side tomorrow afternoon in the first game back after the boring two week International break.