Rafa Works With Players As Terriers Close In On Top Two


Rafa Benitez will spend the week with his players seemingly determined to learn fully what happened in the game against Fulham on Saturday, when Newcastle didn’t seem to turn up and we were well beaten by Fulham 3-1 – the worst home defeat of the season with three goals conceded.

One huge problem for Rafa is the defeat and poor performance came right out of the blue and everything seemed to be set for a tough game.

Before the game Rafa had said Fulham would come and attack Newcastle, but that was also an opportunity for Newcastle to score goals, with Fulham’s defense certainly not one of the best in the division.

Slavisa Jokanovic and Rafa Benitez before the game on Saturday

But after an hour we were 3-0 down and even after Daryl Murphy scored we couldn’t mount a good enough comeback.

It was probably the worst display of the season from Newcastle and not at a good time either.

But Rafa will try to get to the bottom of what happened this week so he can ensure it doesn’t happen again in the final 9 games of this season.

This is what Rafa has said today as reported in the Chronicle:

“It is really important for us to rest and keep working with the players.”

“When we were travelling away we didn’t have much time.” “So now hopefully we can recover everybody for the next game.”

“I have been saying for a while that April will be crucial.”

“That is more clear now.” “We have to keep doing the things that we were doing, and do them well.”

“We will analyse this game and try to find the solutions to our problems.”

“Then we can quickly make sure we are ready for the next one.”

The next one is a game at Birmingham City on Saturday and it’s really important that we win that one so that Huddersfield don’t gain further ground on us.

Here’s how things stand at the top of the Championship at the moment.

PosTeamGamesGDPoints
1Newcastle464594
2Brighton463493
3Reading46485
4Sheffield Wednesday461581
5Huddersfield46-281
6Fulham462880

Huddersfield are at home to Bristol City on Friday night, but their make-up game doesn’t seem to be until Tuesday 25th April when they are at Wolves.

Newcastle must win the game at St. Andrew’s and then when things start up again on April 1st when we are at home to Wigan, we cannot make the same mistakes we made against Fulham.

Newcastle have to find some way to play well at home and win the vast majority of the remaining 5 home games left this season – against Wigan Athletic, Burton Albion, Leeds United, Preston North End and Barnsley.

The away games are at Birmingham City, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town and Cardiff City.

Comments welcome.



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102 comments so far

  • Clematis

    Mar 13, 2017 at 4:59 PM

    Comment #1

    Thankfully, the table DOESN’T look like that at all….

    ….our run-in isn’t too bad and, unlike all the negative ‘fans’ and wums on here, I predict a strong finish for Rafa’s lads.

    ‘mon tha toon! 🙂

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  • Clematis

    Mar 13, 2017 at 4:59 PM

    Comment #2

    Aaagh, Ed updated the table, haha!

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  • hibbit

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:08 PM

    Comment #3

    stuart no9 @ 67
    if we are beaten before we get out the tunnel where have the 77 points come from ???????

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  • RUNAWAY777

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:14 PM

    Comment #4

    I my have got this wrong and iam sure someone will tell me but I honestly belive these players can’t handle the pressures of playing in front of 50,000 plus fans.

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  • WWSBRD

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:18 PM

    Comment #5

    RUNAWAY
    How then do these players end up top of the table?

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  • Munster Mag

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:18 PM

    Comment #6

    Clematis, although I am portrayed by some as anti Rafa ( which I am not – I have a lot of respect for hwat he has done, but feel that negative aspects are also allowed to be discussed) , I had also felt that we would go on a run, and that would include Fulham. In fact I reckoned we could win it by about 6 points. I don’t think that any more. I also agree with Stuart that Rafa is over cautious at home but have been saying this for ages. The Daily Express ran an article putting the best players from our division in one team – and apparently we have 5 of them! I think we should be battering the crap out of more of them at St James. But if you have a manager saying that he expects the away team ( Fulham, not Man U) to have more possession, then it sends out the wrong message. If we mess this up in the home straight because of Rafa’s conservatism, we are gonna be stuck here for ages. Imagine trying to get out of this division with Sunderland and Boro down here?? Nobody has answered why he could never play 2 up top – as a lot do in this division. I think Leicester stormed it with 2 up front? Just now and again – at home??

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  • WWSBRD

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:20 PM

    Comment #7

    Also have 11 home victories? Was there a boycott I missed during those games?

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  • stuart no9

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:21 PM

    Comment #8

    WWSBARD , That’s the problem , we havnt got so many wins at home

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  • RUNAWAY777

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:21 PM

    Comment #9

    Because they win more away but what ever I say you will say something different so it will be better to differ mate

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  • Munster Mag

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:23 PM

    Comment #10

    WW, what comments do you have on Charlie’s post about our fairly long run of dodgy away form? I cant get to games. Fair points ? We always seem to be hanging on because we back off but that may be harsh

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  • Clematis

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:24 PM

    Comment #11

    Hi Munster

    I know you love the toon, and you have every right to express your opinion, etc.

    Before the season started I expected us to win this league at a canter.

    However, things have changed since 2009. This league is so much stronger.

    Every team wants to beat us, and so their game is upped. Every referee wants to make a name for himself against us.

    I too would love to play 4-4-2….but in Rafa we trust and in the main we have played some truly great football.

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  • stuart no9

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:24 PM

    Comment #12

    Most of those points come from away from home

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  • scout

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:25 PM

    Comment #13

    Huddersfield will not keep up the form they show. No chance.

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  • WWSBRD

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:31 PM

    Comment #14

    stuart
    11 home wins isn’t many?

    RUNAWAY
    Not necessarily true but am not going to agree with comments I disagree with am I? For instance if u pointed out 1 defeat in 14 games is pretty good all things considered I think I’d agree with that

    Munster
    Our long run of dodgy away form? Well my comments on that would be bemusement if am honest

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  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:34 PM

    Comment #15

    Munster,
    We don’t know why he doesn’t play with two strikers, what are you hoping to achieve by endlessly repeating that he needs to.attack teams more at home?

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  • cyprus

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:39 PM

    Comment #16

    I thought we’d be in the playoffs, given what I’d seen in the PL, except the Spurs game.

    However we’ve done better than I thought. We need like 4 wins and a couple draws to hit like 91 points. That should be enough. Huddersfield need to win almost all their games to beat a ton.

    Surely they can’t. Surely. This league is too tough.

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  • RUNAWAY777

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:42 PM

    Comment #17

    WWSBRD yes your right but if our home from was as good as our away from i honestly belive we would be clear by now .

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  • WWSBRD

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:49 PM

    Comment #18

    RUNAWAY
    Well yes but equally if Brighton weren’t stupidly good under Hoots or Huddersfield hadn’t loaned in all their good players we’d be clear by now aswell

    If the ref hadn’t given Forrest a win against us we’d have 3 more points or if Shelvey had kept his mouth shut we’d have more points or if Mitro could hit a barn door…i could go on here

    We are doing fantastically this season mate considering the crap we have had to put up with

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  • WWSBRD

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:52 PM

    Comment #19

    Think we have dropped 4 more points at home than away…take away Clarks QPR own goal and Dummetts header over Darlow against Bristol and we are equal…if my counting right obviously

    Two individual errors

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  • Munster Mag

    Mar 13, 2017 at 5:56 PM

    Comment #20

    Er, Jail, you have repeated yourself about Ashley for 5 years. Pot kettle black. I cant understand why Rafa is so devoted to 4231 and seems to completely lack the tactical flexibility to try 2 striker up front. If you don’t like the analysis it aint my problem

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  • BeeGuy

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:01 PM

    Comment #21

    The team is stale. Rafa has this week to refresh the lads and get them on top of their opponents. I think they were out of gas for Fulham, and not everyone could press the Cottage defenders or pass the ball around at the back which left the guys trying looking a step late. Let’s see what surprise the gaffer has for us this Saturday.

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  • Munster Mag

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:01 PM

    Comment #22

    WW, sorry, I meant home form. Charlie had looked back over the games and felt we were “getting away with it” , or generally getting by with a lot of luck. Or just being poor, eg Bristol City. Re Huddersfield, I don’t think they are going to blow up. They have been in form for ages and are killing teams. We are not. I think they are only 2 points behind if they win the game in hand. That barely qualifies as a lead, not to mind a cushion. Am I the only one who thinks we are too cautious at home and the players may be seizing up? Don’t blame fatiguw – we have a healthy squad and only a few days ago we were complimenting Rafa’s choice s fitness staff

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  • RUNAWAY777

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:05 PM

    Comment #23

    WWSBRD to true mate but we tried for loans but had no joy getting them as most mangers want there players to play and knew if they came to the toon they would not get much playing time, as we send ours out for playing time to improve them not sit on a bench mate

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  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:09 PM

    Comment #24

    munster,
    I was trying to persuade others that thought he had the best interests of the club at heart to change their minds, we have a defence minded manager, you endlessly preaching that he should play 4-4-2 is not going to change anything.

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  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:10 PM

    Comment #25

    FFS Munster, if they are killing teams how come they only have a plus 8 GD?

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  • Jib

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:11 PM

    Comment #26

    “Jail for Ashley // what are you hoping to achieve by endlessly repeating ”

    I must say that made me smile

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  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:12 PM

    Comment #27

    Anyway, as previously stated by toontaff22 there were three bingo winners for the Fulham game, chicousa, bobbybee and toontaff22 himself, chicousa even got the score right but I’m pretty sure he meant 3-1 us 😮

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  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:17 PM

    Comment #28

    There are now 27 different winners of the five points, toontaff making a late surge with twenty points now.

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  • stuart no9

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:18 PM

    Comment #29

    Yes we’ve 11 home wins but realistically , how many points dropped against , wolves Blackburn Sheffield wed qpr Bristol Fulham and just managed a win against Derby . Not great is it ??

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  • WWSBRD

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:20 PM

    Comment #30

    Munster
    Man howay Huddersfield are essentially 7 points behind us and they certainly aren’t killing teams there goal difference proves that. As for Charlie his opinions are his and he views football differently to me so not his hanging on is often my comfortable in control

    As for fatigue 4 games in 11/12 days 3 away big distances will take it out of any team let’s not be daft

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  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:21 PM

    Comment #31

    No Stuart it is not great, in fact it is bad but it is certainly better than the absolute meaningless dross we have suffered for the last eight years.

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  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:22 PM

    Comment #32

    Not just three away games but against arguably the best teams in the division.

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  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:22 PM

    Comment #33

    behind us of course.

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  • WWSBRD

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:27 PM

    Comment #34

    Stuart
    That sounds terrible where are we in the league after so many poor results? Must be miles behind where Hoots had us as well haha not trying to be a d!ck but we aren’t say in 6th man

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  • toon kk

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:29 PM

    Comment #35

    We have a good squad which was proven especially before Gayle picked up his injury. But nerves have set in among our players, at least at home. 52,000 expecting a victory is just to much, being made worse by Rafa’s style of football.

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  • WWSBRD

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:32 PM

    Comment #36

    Could it be bette? aye but it always can be

    But this reaction to our first loss since the beginning of January man…i dread to think what’s going to happen next season

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  • toon kk

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:38 PM

    Comment #37

    WWSBRD
    It’s only caused a big reaction due to the manner we lost. Otherwise spirits would be still high.

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  • WWSBRD

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:38 PM

    Comment #38

    toon kk
    So our home form may well be better if we shut half the stadium…should maybe only allow our away support in might improve the atmosphere aswell

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  • toon kk

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:46 PM

    Comment #39

    WWSBRD
    Why should we close half the stadium?
    Tbf the players are professionals but still human. Once our negative style of football is exploited and we go behind our players fall apart.
    It’s only natural for fans to expect a win at home. I don’t even Rafa knows wtf happens to our players.

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  • WWSBRD

    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:52 PM

    Comment #40

    toon kk
    If NUFC can cope with 52000 fans expectation then why shouldn’t the club do what’s best for results and remove that issue? They have no issue performing in front of our away fans do they go expecting us to lose?

    Negative style? That opinion and not mine…also not backed up by stats I might add

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