When asked after the 2-1 win at Brighton last Tuesday night whether it would be the same again at Huddersfield on Saturday, Rafa hesitated and then said it would be a different kind of game because Huddersfield like to hold onto the ball a lot and would have lots of possession.
Rafa was right about that and Newcastle ceded possession to them on Saturday, but when we got the ball we counter attached quickly and effectively.
So much so that we were comfortably ahead 2-0 at half time without having too much of the ball.
Rafa Benitez waves to the fans after massive win on Saturday
Rafa played big Daryl Murphy up front because he wanted to attack quickly and get the ball upfield to a good target man.
This is some of what Rafa said after the game on Saturday and he said Huddersfield’s possession never concerned him:
“We knew Huddersfield would be a team who had possession – we didn’t care about that.”
“We had to be a threat when we got forward, with Murphy running behind and getting the second balls.”
“The plan worked well and we have had a lot of possession in a lot of games.”
“Our average is 55% possession, so we do have the ball in games.”
“We knew Huddersfield would have it so I wanted to try to do different things, like getting in behind the big center-backs.”
“We played with Murphy instead of Gayle so we had to make sure we won the second-balls.”
Rafa’s plan simply worked like a charm and it would be a good learning game for coaches on how to play against a team who likes to have possession a lot in games.
Barcelona and Manchester City are two teams who do that a lot and maybe if we played Manchester City we will use the same tactics we used on Saturday.
Hopefully that will happen next season when we are back int he Premier League.
It’s looking good at the moment but we cannot assume anything and must keep winning our games.
Rafa is almost bound to say those words at today’s press conference for the game tomorrow night at Reading.
And after the game on Saturday he was a study in calmness and coolness and simply refused to get carried away by those interviewing him.
But he did say he was happy with the win.