Before every game Rafa Benitez has got this blog well-trained and we always say the game will be a tough one, because you just never know in the Championship and the games against Fulham, Huddersfield and Wolves were shockers and Newcastle were not supposed to lose those games – but we did.
Starting off with two Championship defeats in a row when we only lost four games in the whole of 2009-20120 under Chris Hughton was a huge surprise.
But it did help to level set a lot of Geordie fans who thought we could walk away with the Championship this season, especially after such a good summer transfer window.
Rafa Benitez – complacency and arrogance could damage promotion push
And Rafa hammers that message into the players every day that they cannot take any game for granted and the only way to success this season is to respect every single opponent and play with full concentration and focus and at 100% in every game.
As long as Rafa can get his new Newcastle team doing that we should be OK – but as soon as any complacency or even arrogance creeps into the squad, there could be trouble.
Benitez’ rotation policy is a good weapon (if that’s the right word) to avoid against over-confidence and complacency.
And if a player doesn’t perform he will not play in the next game – and may have difficulty getting back into the side such is the strength and depth Rafa has in his squad.
We’re quite sure a player like Jonjo Shelvey is only too well aware of that and he’s been great for a number of games for Newcastle now and has started every game lately – any dip in form and Jonjo knows he could be on the bench again.
Rafa has taken almost no chances this season, because he knows it’s imperative Newcastle get straight back to the Premier League.
This is what Rafa has said:
“When you are top of the table and you are doing well, you have to be careful,.” “And make sure that you don’t have over-confidence or complacency.”
“You can tell the players though, and still sometimes you cannot control everything.” “They need to be on their toes and they know that if they don’t perform well, someone else will be there.”
“So I think this positive competition is the key to keep the momentum and keep the team winning.”
“Sometimes you have managers that have a good squad.” “But they try to play the same players all the time – 13 or 14 players – and then little by little you lose the other players.”
“So we try to keep everybody as fit and keen as possible. We know keeping 25 to 27 players happy is impossible.”
“But as much as we can, we must keep them all thinking that they could play and they could perform and they could give something.”
Rafa has also passed messages like this onto the fans and they are taking them in and basically doing whatever the manager asks of them – to assist in the promotion push as much as possible.
Everything and everybody associated with Newcastle United is behind the club and the players right now – as we make a tremendous push for promotion this season.
It’s seen clearly with the traveling Newcastle fans who not only are supporting the team 100% on the road, but they have been a credit to the club and the City of Newcastle all season.
If we keep that up then as Rafa says we can all celebrate next May – BIG TIME.
Howay The Lads!!