Truthful Rafa Reveals What He’ll Keep Doing On Tyneside

Rafa made 8 changes to the side last Saturday that had started at Birmingham in the previous game in the FA Cup.

And last night he made another 8 changes to the side that beat Brentford 2-1 on Saturday and Rafa started three of Newcastle’s top young players last night against Birmingham – Dan Barlasar, Yasin Ben El-Mhanni and Stuart Findlay.

He gave debuts to all three youngsters – a courageous move by the manager – and it paid off with a good 3-1 win.

Good friends Rafa Benitez and Gianfranco Zola – before the game

But Rafa seemed to know exactly what he was doing and the lads all had solid games – and they will be  a lot better for the experience in front of just less than 35,000 fans at St. James’ Park.

It also sends a positive message to all the youngsters at Newcastle – you will get your chance in the first team if you work hard in training and play well in the U23 team.

This is what Rafa said after the game:

“I can see us going for the next game against Oxford trying to do well. The cup competition in England is always difficult. We will try to go through.”

“When you try to play any team at this stage of the competition then it will be difficult.”  “Hopefully we will have more players coming back, and we can manage it better.”

“It is always important to win any game, in any competition. We are happy to go through and we will try to continue. If we can carry on we will try.”

“But I don’t want to lie, we will use the squad because we need to protect players and we will try to beat Oxford.”

“We knew we had to make changes, the problem is we lost four players in the last few games and because of the Africa Cup of Nations so we had to use the squad.”

“It was important to win but also important to use the squad.”

“It was important for the young players, important for the Academy players, all the staff to see some players in the first team.”

“A big plus for the players and for the Academy system here.”

“The happiest man will be Barlaser because it is his birthday (20 years old), he will remember it all of his life.”

“It is important for them to work hard and after the three of them worked hard, they are part of this team to win the game.”

“I was speaking with Lee Charnley before the game.”  

“Hopefully he is working this evening and he will give me a surprise in a few hours, a few days.”

“We will keep working.”

Jonjo Shelvey had an excellent game and he sprayed passes all over the place as if he had never been away – this man is some player for Newcastle these days.

And Rafa will continue to use the squad, as he gets all the players more match fit for the run-in to the Championship.

It was an excellent win for us last night – but now all that matters is beating Rotherham United at home on Saturday and staying top of the league.

There’s a good game on Friday night as Brighton & Hove Albion entertain an in-form Sheffield Wednesday side.

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Howay The Lads!!

24 comments so far

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Jan 19, 2017 at 12:12 AM

    Comment #1


    Good report as usual. Just wondering about the three 9s
    were they all that good or is there a wee touch of bias.

    Regrettably I wasn’t able to follow the game as I had other commitments but it sounds like we could have scored more until we took our foot of the gas. We’ve got to stop doing that!

    Really pleased to see our young-uns playing well and from what you said could Finlay do the Shelvey job if needed?

  • expatmag

    Jan 19, 2017 at 12:21 AM

    Comment #2

    Essex bill

    Findlay is a centre hslf mate. I doubt he would be anywhere near cspsble of filling JJS s boots

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Jan 19, 2017 at 12:37 AM

    Comment #3


    It was Charlie’s comment saying he can defend and PASS that prompted my query. Don’t know enough about him other than he’s been very good in the reserve teams apparently.

  • TyneMouth

    Jan 19, 2017 at 12:45 AM

    Comment #4

    Twenty more league games, we have to win at least half of them!

    Nine of those games are against teams we have already beaten, away in their own backyards, most of their squad won’t have seen SJP except on TV.

    We have the best away success of any team in the UK this season, there is no reason to doubt that will continue.

    Because we are NUFC there will always be negative reporting in the media. The reasons are historic, and inevitable.

    However, we all remember the ‘Entertainers’ and SBR’s teams, when we were alot of football fans second favorite team.

    Take a deep breath, it could be a memorable and historical next four-months, hang on to your hats, HOWAY!!!

  • bettyswallocks

    Jan 19, 2017 at 12:53 AM

    Comment #5

    It looks like there is harmony betweenn Charnley and Rafa. I don’t think Charnley is the Dish Cloth that some people would have us believe.

  • TyneMouth

    Jan 19, 2017 at 1:09 AM

    Comment #6


    ‘harmony between C & B’ why would there be. You are correct, both combatants are smart cookies, ‘ keep the show on the road’ and ‘ there are bigger problems down stream ‘ perhaps…

  • RUNAWAY777

    Jan 19, 2017 at 1:15 AM

    Comment #7

    Went to the match last night i must say a few of the U23 really did exceed them self’s on a bad point sels will not leave his line to cut any ball out i was a the side of the goal and yes maybe it should have been cleared but if sels had moved quicker he would have been on top of that player beforehe scored why rafa did not give Elliott start beats me.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Jan 19, 2017 at 1:20 AM

    Comment #8

    Tynemouth I have no doubt we’ll win a lot more than we lose.

    Don’t care too much if if R & B aren’t in total harmony, ( 🙂 )

    so long as they keep the Toon well tuned.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Jan 19, 2017 at 1:22 AM

    Comment #9

    Runaway, starting Elliot seemed an obvious choice to me, I would have had 7 in my bingo selection if he had.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Jan 19, 2017 at 1:23 AM

    Comment #10

    Time for bed.

    A happy good night to all the night owls.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Jan 19, 2017 at 1:25 AM

    Comment #11

    R & B ???, obviously need my sleep.

  • Novocastrian66

    Jan 19, 2017 at 1:47 AM

    Comment #12

    Should we progress past the fourth round, every subsequent round except the final falls on a home game. If we get past Oxford, our home match with Villa scheduled for the 20th of Feb will be postponed. That is a Monday night fixture.

  • Steak and Kidney Pie

    Jan 19, 2017 at 5:12 AM

    Comment #13

    Gouffran’s a pretty handy 4th choice centre forward at this level. Pretty handy Championship player altogether. I’m pleased Rafa is so considered in the transfer market. No future in wanting to just throw money at it, short, medium or long. Townsend would be good, as would McCarthy, but nothing more speculative considering the quality in the group already. We are on track, and in safe hands.

  • expatmag

    Jan 19, 2017 at 5:35 AM

    Comment #14


    I agree that we have enough especially when you consider the 3 african lads will be back in 3 weeks so no need to panic buy.

    I wouldnt want McCarthy, especially at the price Everton are asking. We can do better than him.

    Not sure on Townsend. CP will want the £13 million quid back and I wouldnt go anymore than £8 million for him.

    With Aarons and Atsu back soon, Ritchie and Gouffran more than capable out wide at this level, I would prefer to keep our money till the summer unless an outragously ridiculous bargain crops up.

  • Steak and Kidney Pie

    Jan 19, 2017 at 6:03 AM

    Comment #15

    Yeah, they’d have to be good deals for the club. Doubt Townsend would take a drop in wages so 10 million would be about right you’d think. Palace would want more. Maybe a little more for McCarthy, who would be on less wages, but yeah, we aren’t in desperate need for either so no need to stump up over the odds, but I’d take them both for sure. They are both experienced, entering their prime, and upper half epl quality.

  • Laurent Robert 32

    Jan 19, 2017 at 6:06 AM

    Comment #16

    Great we got the win and especially with the young lads gaining some invaluable experience. Shelvey again showing his importance in the side under Rafa.

    Really pleased for Gouffran as well because he hasn’t deserved the stick from people he got in the past. He was never as bad as the former managers made him look through mismanagement and incompetence.

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Jan 19, 2017 at 6:40 AM

    Comment #17

    just got in from match

    Enjoyed game and result

    Started slowly except Tiote giving away a free kick first minute.
    Game changed with Shelvey’s superb pas to set up the penalty for first goal from then on we were in charge until midway through second half sat deeper and deeper letting Birmingham have more of the ball.
    There goal came from lack of concentration poor marking.

    Shelvey Ritchie and Goufran were outstanding but
    I am giving young Stuart Finlay MOM for a debut I thought he was outstanding at the back tackled, headed and comfortable on the ball.
    Also Dan Barlaser had a good debut.

    Merit marks
    Self – 5 like Dracula hates crosses stuck on the line time and time again
    Yedlin -7 great going forward defending so-so
    Hanley – 7 good game but went to sleep for their goal
    Finlay – 9 My MOM great debut – makings of a excellent player can defend and PASS
    Lazar – 6 good going forward nearly scored but not the strongest in the tackle
    Shelvey – 9 Class oozed class tonight – passing was sublime at times
    Tiote – 7 stared slowly grew into the game until ran out of puff – put some crunching tackles in but over does the touches on the ball and gets dispossessed
    Barlaser – 8 started slowly but as the game went on grew in confidence and wanted the ball got involved in a lot of moves and carried/passed the ball forward – kid going to be a canny player
    Ritchie – 9 best game in a TOON shirt for a long long time
    Goufran – 9 good game led the line well full of running – intelligent runs in and behind there defence along with his usually tackling in midfield – Took his goal well
    El – Mhanni – 7 full of running got up and down the wing but tends to overdo the tricks – did ok

    subs Colback – 5 did OK coming on – actually passed the ball forward
    Hayden – 6 played as a full back at times and looked very good in that position
    Perez 5 – full of running got into some great positions but took the wrong option to many times

    Footnote on signings
    From watching last night Goufran would be a ample replacement upfront – had great movement last night pulled the Birmingham defence all-over the place quick to see the pass coming from Shelvey – i.e. first run for penalty and his goal.

    If we could get I would try to sign a creative midfield player – hard to find – because when Shelvey is out the team – we lack creativity.

    Mind you Barlaser tried last night to bring the ball forward and find a defence splitting pass – going to be a decent player.

    If we want a winger Townsend – yes – but me I would take a punt on Wildschuld at Wigan – led Dummett a merry dance down there.

  • expatmag

    Jan 19, 2017 at 7:01 AM

    Comment #18


    Agree on the Wigan lad. But could he make the step up to the PL?

    I was thinking Xavi Alonso might be persuaded to sign mayve for a season or two but I see he is retiring at the end of the season. He would be ideal for at least the first season back. Maybe Rafa could persuade him to come for one last season? Failing that, Carrick alongside Shelvey?

  • LGFUAD21

    Jan 19, 2017 at 7:08 AM

    Comment #19

    I agree that sels looks terrified in this league but i dint see how anyone can pin the goal on him when our defenders simply let the birmingham lad stroll into wide open space.

    Sels was sold out by his defence there.

    Gouffy looked very luvely though

    Anyone notice rafa said four players. I make it five

    Mbemba, diame, atsu, anita and gayle.

    Either gayles injury is not bad at all or rafa doesnt consider one of these guys a part of the team (mbemba?). Or maybe rafa just made a mistake (this is h e the media does it right)

  • LGFUAD21

    Jan 19, 2017 at 7:17 AM

    Comment #20

    Having now seen extended highlights shelvey looked pure class.

    There wre about 5 champagne passes in the h Ghlights alone and for the 3rd goal he showed that he is more than just a decent pass.

    Gouffran also looked very good. Positioning great. Nearly set up another goal with a nice square ball across the box. His position, first touch and cross were great there.

    People forget that he was consider a striker/winger when we signed him from bordeaux. I agree with whoever else said it. This guy can be extra cover for strikers. His playing style was similar to gayle last night too.

    Lazaar looks like a winger toi me aswell

    Priority signings should be another cm a no 10 and probably another full back.

  • Mag52

    Jan 19, 2017 at 7:32 AM

    Comment #21

    All might be sweetness and light at the moment at NUFC, but we have seen over recent weeks how the loss of Shelvey can impact the team and our momentum.
    Cover for his position is,imo, an absolute necessity in this window.
    The idea that Shelvey or the new guy would not want to sit out some matches doesn’t hold water if we have any aspirations to aim for the top half of the premiership. All the successful teams in the PL have quality players, big earners, rotating throughout the season. This is how they remain so strong.

  • giimps

    Jan 19, 2017 at 7:42 AM

    Comment #22

    Im gutted i missed the match but work called, never mind though, hopefully we go through vs Oxford and i can hope for a home game in rd5.
    Rotheram at home should be another chance for Shelvey to gain match fitness before the Brighton game (whenever thats going to be) ,not that he needs id judging by his play last night by all accounts.
    Im pleased for the younguns last night, they all sounded like they never froze ,which is good ,and more importantly, made a good impression on the Gaffa.
    Onward to the Rotheram game and hopefully a few goals and 3 pts……bring it on

  • sparky55

    Jan 19, 2017 at 7:50 AM

    Comment #23


    Where do you think we can get the cover for Shelvey you’re looking for.

    Who will want to come as cover???

    If he’s cover now, whoever comes in will not be getting a start and he won’t be getting a start next season either.

    You don’t need cover for Shelvey, you need someone better than Shelvey so it’s Shelvey’s who’s working his nuts off to get in the team next year.

  • ShirebrookToon

    Jan 19, 2017 at 7:53 AM

    Comment #24

    Mike Ashley is out an about early this morning. Is there a player on his way in


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