What Rafa Benitez Has Told His Young Star To Do During Premier League Games

It’s not a secret that one of the main reasons Mikel Merino arrived at Newcastle United was because of Rafa Benitez, a world-class Spanish manager, being at the club.

Mikel thought he could learn a lot from the former manager of Valencia, Liverpool, and Napoli and he’ s likely to be right there.

Mikel has been off during the international break starring for the Spanish U21 side, and he could well improve very quickly in the Premier League under Rafa Benitez.

We hope that’s the case.

Mikel Merino – a rising young star

While in Spain, Mikel has spoken to Marca and had this to say about Benitez:

“The club wanted to have me and Benitez counted on me. A player wants to go where he really feels loved.”

“Rafa is one of the main reasons for which I am here, and, above all, because the Premier is a very powerful league and in which I want to grow as a footballer.”

“He tells me that in the middle of the pitch you have to play one or two touches and see where everyone is placed, so I know they are going to come very close to me, that you do not have time to think, that you have to play very fast.”

“And he’s right. I have only three games and can confirm that it is another pace.”   “In everything he says, one has to listen to him because he knows what he is talking about.”

“It will do me good.”

“It’s what we have to do because we don’t have the technical ability of Manchester City, United, or the top of the Premier.”

“Therefore, we must have confidence in our teammates, work all as one and be a family.”

There’s the policy Rafa seems to be telling his players for the coming season.

Hopefully, Newcastle will be able to get in two or three players in January to help us out – even if they are players coming in on loan.

We are still hoping we can finish around mid-table in the league and then push on from there next summer.

Comments welcome.

58 comments so far

  • G

    Sep 7, 2017 at 2:23 PM

    Comment #1

    Sounds awfully like Rafa is setting us up to play exactly like his old Liverpool side. Lets hope Merino can be our Stevie G?

  • MadisonToon

    Sep 7, 2017 at 2:24 PM

    Comment #2

    There’s no doubt Merino will be a good move – the loan with an option/obligation to purchase is a very strong move in this instance as if he doesn’t turn out as we had hoped he can be sent back without having shelled out too much on him. I do, however, think he will be a very strong player for us as he adapts to the PL and think this isn’t one we’ll want to send back at the end of the season 🙂

    The rest of our purchases are more hit-or-miss:

    Lejeune – Looks to be a great move so far
    Manquillo – Will be a backup with a fit Yedlin but will push and is young and hungry, good signing
    Atsu – Seems to be coming into his own some, not a player that will get into Chelsea’s team but a player that will work for us for a while
    Joselu – Not seen enough to really know, but we needed another striker, the price was right, and the attitude seems good
    Murphy – Why has he not played more? Not match fit? Not following directions? Ritchie and Atsu, although playing decently, have not convinced me that they deserve more than 60 min/game but they’re getting more like 90 a piece – so why is Murphy not coming in? This is the one place where I’m a bit concerned as he seems to have come in and, from watching him previously, he should be able to get a bit of game time, but he isn’t. Will have to watch as this develops.

  • Tsunki

    Sep 7, 2017 at 2:54 PM

    Comment #3

    “He tells me that in the middle of the pitch you have to play one or two touches and see where everyone is placed, so I know they are going to come very close to me, that you do not have time to think, that you have to play very fast.”

    This gives me confidence that this lad will improve. Rafa bought him for his vision and creative passing, we’ve seen glimpses already, all that’s required now is for him to acclimatise to the pace & learn how to make those first couple of touches when he receives the ball to give him some time to think and plan his best pass and we might just have the makings of a midfield we haven’t had here in a long long time.

  • Hooded Claw

    Sep 7, 2017 at 2:55 PM

    Comment #4

    But can we hang onto good player’s.

  • carl

    Sep 7, 2017 at 3:08 PM

    Comment #5

    Rarely last season were Newcastle the most impressive side in the Championship but they were solid and found a way to win games.

    This might well prove to be more difficult this season but the tactical meticulous planning skills of Benitez could well prove invaluable yet again in nullifying opposition.
    I read a number saying we had bought too many squad players and not enough starting players. I beg to differ as Lejeune in 35 minutes, merino and Joselu have shown. I’m not rushing to judgement and neither should others but indications are good. Sunday could be the acid test. I forecast 10 points from the first 6 games and stand by my prediction.
    I do hope we win on Sunday if only to drive away the few demonstration recruitment bloggers on here. This is what happened when we went on a winning phase having lost our first few games in the Championship. Why do some look forward to us struggling maybe it’s because they will be taken more seriously.

  • Chancel be a fine thing

    Sep 7, 2017 at 3:12 PM

    Comment #6

    On Murphy, I’ve read Norwich fans saying he’s not very consistent and frustrating. He had a very good game against us and caused a lot of problems. Maybe Rafa took a shine to him, seeing less than the full picture. He is a pacy winger who takes players on and has an eye for goal, but I think we already have a better one in Aarons. Time will tell; but from the little time he’s wore the shirt, opinion seems to question his decision making. Hope he doesn’t turn out like sterling. Good luck to the lad though and let’s hope his broader game awareness develops under Rafa.

  • JP...from The Rock

    Sep 7, 2017 at 3:19 PM

    Comment #7

    Chancel be a fine thing- I wouldn’t mind Sterling here one bit lol. Aarons may be good but is sadly incredibly injury prone. We seem to have such hard luck on good players being injury prone. It has happened to our most influential players through history except a few. Thank God Shearer wasn’t injury pronw or else we would have been playing in League 1 by now.

    On Murphy I think he will come good but not great. A good impact player to have from the bench and as back up I feel. Maybe he needs a bit of time to adjust to the EPL, afterall it is all new to him.

  • Chancel be a fine thing

    Sep 7, 2017 at 3:38 PM

    Comment #8

    Agree with Carl about Rafa’s approach. It’s part of the reason I think we will do better than most predict (bet hedging) this season. Blackburn did the double over us last season, yet we did very well against the top clubs. I have been wondering, what with the success of Tony Pulis at west brom, whether the strong defence, nick a goal tactic works well against the 3 at the back,high press game which is becoming so popular in the premier league now. If this is the case, then I think we are set well.

  • Chancel be a fine thing

    Sep 7, 2017 at 3:46 PM

    Comment #9

    Stirling makes me laugh when he plays for club, and pull my hair out when for country. Yes he’s fast, yes he can beat a man, but is clueless as a footballer, no end product; luckily Pep is already bald. I won’t even qualify this as opinion for it is fact. In his defence, at least this seasons hairstyle doesn’t make him look like an American schoolgirl.

  • Lindisfarne

    Sep 7, 2017 at 4:04 PM

    Comment #10

    What is it with being compared to being “not” like Man City!

  • Ibizatoon

    Sep 7, 2017 at 4:28 PM

    Comment #11

    Afternoon all.


    So, the purchasing window will be closed for PL clubs as of 9th August 2018, but clubs will still be able to sell to other leagues later into August /September as usual.

    It’ll be nice not having the internal PL transfer distraction going on, but not sure about not being able to replace players you may sell after the 9th. Ashley will love it, only being able to sell.

  • Ibizatoon

    Sep 7, 2017 at 4:29 PM

    Comment #12

    And think…we now get to stretch the pain of “deadline day” over 2 days. Deep joy.

    Perhaps a re-brand is needed? “Disappointment day”? I guess it would be days, not day.

  • Chancel be a fine thing

    Sep 7, 2017 at 4:34 PM

    Comment #13

    Although Chancel is unfortunately returning injured, there is a silver lining, as he’s managed to finally sort out the dispute over his age. Early substituation through injury allowed him the time to get to his mum’s and look through his old bedroom and he’s only gone and found his birth certificate! Chancel, although injured, has plenty of time to recover as he is now only 18. A real one for the future we’ve got there.

  • lochinvar

    Sep 7, 2017 at 4:40 PM

    Comment #14

    It’s arrived !
    What’s arrived you ask ?
    A new signing ?
    No better than that.
    A pressie – the pressie from Mike
    It’s quite big and well wrapped – must be a box of chocolates
    Hope so.
    I’ll have a peak inside
    Glum face – nee choccy marra
    Ah well can’t win em all
    It’s a, it’s a wallet for my Season Ticket
    Canny after 10 years of support
    Not even plastic – might even be leather , really ?
    Oh and a photo album – canny memories of winning something a long time ago

    Oh well
    I’ll ask me mate Forest what he thinks

    ” Mama always said”
    “Life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get ”

    Bit like supporting Newcastle United then Forest ?

    Shrimps for tea

    “That – that’s about it “

  • Chancel be a fine thing

    Sep 7, 2017 at 4:42 PM

    Comment #15

    Mikey will also enjoy saying:
    “Oh Shit….sorry Rafa mate, my bad, I forgot, thought we still had two weeks left. And Penfold was off to Barca tommorrow to see about Messi. Suppose I best cancel his flight.”

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 7, 2017 at 5:02 PM

    Comment #16

    carl, Jack, Ian etc etc ets,
    Why are such a duplicitous, pompous and patronising prat?
    just one of you to answer please.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 7, 2017 at 5:03 PM

    Comment #17

    Why are you?

  • welshgeordie9

    Sep 7, 2017 at 5:09 PM

    Comment #18

    Can’t wait for the match, not long now.

  • Lindisfarne

    Sep 7, 2017 at 5:37 PM

    Comment #19

    I am glad we have a player of Marinos abilities, as it was obvious last season that if Shelvey was closely marked we lacked creativity. Two potential playmakers on the pitch, should make space for each other, but I would be concerned at their ability to provide a defensive cover.

  • bettyswallocks

    Sep 7, 2017 at 6:21 PM

    Comment #20

    Welsh………. Who do you want to win?

  • carl

    Sep 7, 2017 at 6:29 PM

    Comment #21

    It would not be a surprise for Hayden, Merino and Shelvey to all feature during the course of the game.
    Hayden has a more limited passing range compared to the other two and could be used to provide defensive cover.

    Please just concentrate on supporting and not questioning anyone who might not blame Ashley endlessly. The football side of the club is Rafa’s domain and I do recognise his meticulous planning will be invaluable. He’s got to play the hand he’s been dealt.
    Get used to it.

  • jesperfuglsang - capt'n awesome of the lemon crew

    Sep 7, 2017 at 6:44 PM

    Comment #22

    I actually thought Ian would take that one…an it would have been one about lack of emotional intelligence or something like that…

  • carl

    Sep 7, 2017 at 6:53 PM

    Comment #23

    I was impressed with Naughton against Palace. Be interesting to see who Rafa plays at LB given Mbemba is doubtfu. Maybe Clark with Lejuene at CB.

  • hellodjo

    Sep 7, 2017 at 7:06 PM

    Comment #24

    Mersons prediction on sky sports for our game vs Swansea.

    ‘Swansea made a few additions on Deadline Day and that will have lifted the club. I didn’t think they were great against Palace but did what they had to do.

    I’m looking forward to watching Renato Sanches. If he gets anywhere near to the form he showed at Euro 2016 everybody in Europe will be thinking: “How did Swansea get him?” Obviously it’s because of Paul Clement, who was Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant at Bayern Munich so fair play to him, it’s an excellent signing.

    Newcastle had a superb result against West Ham but I think the Premier League class will show in this one. Swansea have been there and done it and will have too much for Newcastle.’

    Hilarious the delusion of pundits like Merson who actually think Swansea are a step above us because of Renato Sanchez and Bony etc., absolute rubbish hope Merson watches the game and Merino puts a performance in like he did vs West Ham, don’t think Sanchez is going to instantly hit it off in the prem and will Bony be hungry at all he hasn’t been that good in recent years.

    2-0 away win for us Swansea will attack and we’ll hit them on the counter attack Joselu and Perez with the goals

  • magspuggy

    Sep 7, 2017 at 7:10 PM

    Comment #25

    Surprised merson has us doon 4 a loss at the jaçks 🙂

    I think jonjo should sit on the bench to protect him from himself and as he needs to know the team is bigger than him and his place is not a gimmie. I expect a hard game but we will win it and if we grab a early goal we could turn them right over.

  • carl

    Sep 7, 2017 at 7:18 PM

    Comment #26

    Good to read the positivity. Both Palace and the Swans played 3-5-2.
    Let’s see whether Rafa moves away from 4-2-3-1. Very much doubt it.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 7, 2017 at 7:25 PM

    Comment #27

    If you are a genuine diagnosed schizophrenic then I do apologise.

  • Lindisfarne

    Sep 7, 2017 at 7:30 PM

    Comment #28

    My team to capsize Swansea:


    This team have deserve to retain their places with new additions to cover injuries. If they can continue to be a dominating force that is quick on the counter, we will succeed. I would still prefer to see Ritchie in the middle with Murphy on the right, but if it ain’t broke why change. Which is also the reason why Shelvey should not automatically start.

  • Lindisfarne

    Sep 7, 2017 at 7:37 PM

    Comment #29

    Benitez ruled out after surgery


    Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez will not hold his usual pre-match press conference on Friday after undergoing surgery during the international break.

    Benitez went into hospital for a procedure to address an infection resulting from a hernia operation he had two years ago.

    Fitness coach Francisco de Miguel Moreno will take over his media duties ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Swansea

  • sing in the corner

    Sep 7, 2017 at 7:37 PM

    Comment #30

    very tough to call this one. Swansea have made some decent signings..
    If Bony is fit and Sanches lives up to his billing they are going to cause us lots of problems.
    I think we really have our work cut out to get a win here, and I will be happy with a draw to be honest. I would start Merino and Hayden again in the middle. Jonjo on the bench, and needs to knuckle down to force his way back in.
    Howay lads, surprise me!

  • carl

    Sep 7, 2017 at 7:38 PM

    Comment #31

    Whenever I think of you Jail, the adjective pathetic is never far away. Another one is sanctimonious- so very quick to judge, while ignoring your own misdeeds.
    Enjoy my absence.

  • Lindisfarne

    Sep 7, 2017 at 7:43 PM

    Comment #32

    Ben Rumsby

    Am told 14 Premier League clubs voted for the transfer window to be closed. 5 against. 1 abstention. Close

    What’s the betting MA being missing?!

  • G

    Sep 7, 2017 at 8:07 PM

    Comment #33

    Sanchez had one decent tournament, then flopped in Germany. I fully expect him to do the same at Swansea. Bony is either a spent force, or uninterested now he’s rich, but I don’t expect him to be anywhere near the player Swansea sold. I still expect a tough match, but one I feel is very winnable for us. 1 nil to the Toon.

  • bettyswallocks

    Sep 7, 2017 at 8:34 PM

    Comment #34
  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 7, 2017 at 9:28 PM

    Comment #35

    Looks like carl etc are self hearters 😀

  • tommotoon

    Sep 7, 2017 at 9:38 PM

    Comment #36

    I got the 3-0 right against wet spam so i am going for 2-1 to the toon with joselu and ritchie to score (penalty) 1-1 at half time

  • Belfast

    Sep 7, 2017 at 10:10 PM

    Comment #37

    Is there a 24 hour blog purge currently on going or what ? I’m killing Jail if that’s the case. I’m sorry carl but he’s my purge!

  • tommotoon

    Sep 7, 2017 at 10:19 PM

    Comment #38

    no belfast its not that often i send a post but when i do everyone seems to disappear i am starting to get a bit paranoid

  • Belfast

    Sep 7, 2017 at 10:31 PM

    Comment #39

    Dont worry about it I’ve had many of those moments myself haha

    I think I held the record for consecutive comments at one point. I was a professional blog killer around these parts.

  • welshgeordie9

    Sep 7, 2017 at 10:35 PM

    Comment #40


    Your comment regarding Sanchez and Bony, you are either jealous or trying to pick holes.


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