Newcastle were not at their best yesterday at Preston and after opening brightly with a nice opportunist goal from Aleksandar Mitrovic who looked sharp in that first half, maybe it was all the changes made in the second half that results in a disjointed display.
The result was only a 1-1 draw against the Championship club Preston who start their season in two weeks time – one week earlier than Newcastle.
After the game, a down-to-earth Rafa Benitez said the players would have a day off today, Sunday, but that he would continue double training sessions on Monday to sharpen them up even further.
My legs just started to hurt.
A rather stern looking Rafa Benitez on the touchline yesterday
But it’s a thumbs-up to somebody
This is what Rafa said after the game as reported in the Chronicle:
“In terms of the togetherness and the understanding between players it was good.”
“In terms of fitness at Preston you could see they were a little sharper than us.”
“We traveled back and it wasn’t the best journey back.”
“Games like this mean you get fitness and you can play with intensity as some only play 45 minutes.”
“The players can relax a little on Sunday and then it’s back to double sessions on Monday.”
“The team wasn’t playing at the level we were expecting. Sometimes you need to play better.
“If you are a winger you can make the difference.
“These type of games though you have to look to improve your fitness and everybody can understand where we are and how hard we have to work.”
It seems the squad was delayed at Dublin airport for about three hours on Friday night as they waited for their plane to Manchester.
With Preston being 33 miles from Rafa’s home in the Wirral in Cheshire (as the crow flies) we assume the manager can spend today at home with his wife and two teenage daughters.
But that’s only an assumption.