In the Chronicle’s excellent exclusive question and answer interactions with Rafa Benitez, the manager has addressed some criticism from some Newcastle fans that he can be too cautious in games.
That probably comes from the way Kevin Keegan had Newcastle playing in the 1990s, when the only thing the team really thought about was scoring the next goal.
Rafa’s team is a lot more solid in defense and we have the distinct advantage that Rafa is one of the very best tacticians in world football and he quickly knows what’s happening in a game.
Rafa Benitez – with that great confident smile
Look at how many times we have struggled in the first half this season (not sure of the number – but it’s too many times) only to change things at half time and win the game fairly easily.
Rafa was asked if it’s true what some fans think – that he can be too cautious in some games.
This is how Rafa answered that question:
“We are top of the table and we score more goals than any other team in the division and don’t concede many – our goal difference is 38 at the moment.”
“You just have to look at our statistics and compare them to the other teams in this division.”
It would be a mistake to think that we are always able to run at teams and get the victory because of the quality in our squad.”
“There are many other teams in this division with great strength and quality.”
“Some people could look at our game plan away at Huddersfield and say it was too cautious, and that we should be pressing from the first minute to get the win.”
“But our approach to sit back and let them come at us was the best tactic for that particular game.”
“Football management means considering every opponent and every game in isolation and deciding what is the best way to win each game.”
The first half in that game at the Terriers when Newcastle contained Huddersfield and were 2-0 up at half time was a marvel to watch – at least for Newcastle fans.
While Huddersfield had loads of possession in the game they had very few real chances and of course we ended up winning the game 3-1 – maybe our most important win of the season.
If there’s one thing that’s certain at Newcastle it’s that Rafa knows what he’s doing.
Long may it continue.