Rafa Benitez Travels By Train – Now Back In Newcastle

The Chronicle are reporting that Rafa Benitez is now back in Newcastle after he had been given the go ahead from his doctors (and his family) to return to work.

Rafa traveled yesterday morning and he must have been really upbeat after the terrific display from his team on Sunday.

But Rafa doesn’t get carried away and he will impress on his players this week how good Stoke City are and it will likely be a tough and close game – much like it was at Swansea.

A smiling Rafa Benitez with Paco Moreno

Rafa traveled from Liverpool to Newcastle by train on Monday and hopefully had a restful trip.

It takes just over three hours from Liverpool’s Lime Street to the Central Station and there are 48 trains a day traveling from Liverpool to Newcastle.

That’s a lot!

Benitez’s assistant Paco Moreno was in charge in Rafa’s absence and did an excellent job along with the rest of Rafa’s impressive coaching staff.

Paco has said this to say after the win at Swansea:

“Rafa stayed at home and it’s what we wanted.”

“We don’t want to risk anything with him, with his help, and also to do the job and give to Newcastle three points.”

“After the game, he rang and he has congratulated everybody, especially the players because they have done a massive job and we are very happy with the performance.”

“He’s very happy as well and hopefully, he is joining us next week.”

You have to believe that Rafa was absolutely delighted with the win and with the way our lads played.

I know I was and there has been an extra spring in my step since 6pm on Saturday Newcastle time.

Maybe we can get a third win in a row against Stoke on Saturday – that would be something special.

Then we can talk about winning the Premier League.


Howay The Lads!!

42 comments so far

  • JP...from The Rock

    Sep 12, 2017 at 9:34 AM

    Comment #1

    Does Rafa usually take the 3 hour long train trip to Newcastle!? That is a long trip to do daily. He probably stays a few days at Newcastle before heading back home I suppose. Must be tiring to go back and forth so much.

    Rafa must be delighted in the manner of the win vs Swansea. We outplayed them and showed our class and composure throughout the match. Especially Merino who was my Man of the Match. He was immense and if he continues to play like this consistently then we have a real gem on out hands and one we can hopefully turn into a permanent transfer sooner than later. I class him as the best buy of the summer.

  • Jack Root

    Sep 12, 2017 at 9:36 AM

    Comment #2

    Ron earlier-

    Newcastle’s possession stats so far this season: 26.9% (Spurs), 47.3% (Huddersfield), 37.5% (West Ham) and 38.2% (Swansea). It’s actually an average possession rate of just under 37.5%.

  • catchy in norway

    Sep 12, 2017 at 9:57 AM

    Comment #3

    We are joint 9th in goals scored with 4 goals
    we are joint 2nd for goals against with 3 goals
    against Hudderfield going on what has happenend with Mane, they should have had a player sent off, or even if the ref didnt see it, it should have been red retrospectivly.

    Agianst Spuds, they were not that much better than us

    agaisnt Swansea, they had the ball, but did nothing at all with it for all that possesion, we had 16 shots and 8 on target but only had 38% possesion, they had 10 shots and only 5 on target.

    From what i have seen so far, we are playing football as a team, attacking and defending, I see no reason why we will not be safe this season..

    one last point, Gamaz deserves a big mention from Sunday, he was targeted by them, and it was there only game plan, and he delt with it like a boss, i think thats why Murphy started and not Atsu, he is better at covering

  • Ruddy Marveaux-lous

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:07 AM

    Comment #4


    Interesting stats and I would agree with you that should we keep hold of Rafa all season I see no reason why we won’t be easily safe. We’re well drilled, compact defensively and go forward as a unit. We don’t possess as much threat going forward as other teams do but if we nick a goal from a set piece or a bit of skill we are robust enough defensively that we’re in with a shout.

    Totally agree with you on Gamez too, was one of the standout performers at the weekend and deserves to keep his place in the team.

  • Lindisfarne

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:10 AM

    Comment #5

    Catchy – ‘least’ goals against?

    JP – we need to keep Rafa on board and actually buy Merino ASAP

    J Root – do you have a solar powered calculator!

  • Lindisfarne

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:13 AM

    Comment #6

    I did not see the Stoke game at the weekend but worry their midfield maybe too robust for us. They were known for being physical but I am not sure now. How would you describe their performance against ManU?

  • Ruddy Marveaux-lous

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:14 AM

    Comment #7

    On Merino, it’s inevitable that he’s going to have a bad day at the office every now and then so I’m conscious that we shouldn’t be pumping him up too much. His star is rising but he’ll need our support when he doesn’t have it all his way – just look at the stick that Renato Sanches has been coming in following his spotty debut.

    Undoubtedly Merino has the potential to be a star in the making though.

  • Lindisfarne

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:20 AM

    Comment #8


    “outstanding for me is when Tim Krul single handedly won us the match V spurs.”

    From your own description of ‘outstanding’, Krul was at his best for this one game!

    I know I am being picky and am also very susceptible to worse gaffs!

  • Ruddy Marveaux-lous

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:20 AM

    Comment #9


    I would share your concerns about Stoke’s physicality – one of the many reasons I think Perez should lose his place in the team. We need a combative midfield to counteract their style of play and for all his faults, we cannot accuse Shelvey of not being ‘combative’ (!)

  • TyneMouth

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:23 AM

    Comment #10

    On the issue regarding high kicking;

    The pundits on MOTD have been very vocal, and hypocritically opinionated, about players attempting to kick the ball at head height. The recent incidents involving Mane and Ritchie dividing opinion.

    As usual with football matters, there is the usual knee-jerk reaction.

    ‘Ban the raising of feet above waist level!’ what a load of tosh!

    I’m not a betting man, but you can be certain that when MOTD publish their goal of the season, there will be a least one example of the ‘Bicycle Kick’, they even use one on their match advertising!

    Ban the pundits! Perhaps…

  • Slank

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:26 AM

    Comment #11

    Jack Root,

    Those lowish possession statistics include home and away games, won and lost and with different players in different positions.

    I must conclude therefore that it must be Benitez game plan / tactics.

    He must have confidence in his players especially the defence and midfield to soak up pressure but then break quickly and effectively.

    Upon reflection, that tactic was working perfectly against Spurs, even without Dummitt and Lejuene, but came apart after that idiot was sent off.

    The comparison between Swansea and ourselves was most noticeable in the amount of time taken by Swansea to mount an attack. Whether it was their style to always pass it about in their own half to the enth degree or whether our shape and marking caused them to do that I don’t know but goals are rarely scored from behind the half way line.

    At the time I thought West Ham were just very poor but upon reflection perhaps our tactics played a greater part than I previously thought.

    It will be interesting to see whether the same game plan / tactics are used against Stoke. If it ain’t busy don’t fix it, I say.

  • Slank

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:27 AM

    Comment #12

    Ain’t bust don’t fix it !

  • Ruddy Marveaux-lous

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:28 AM

    Comment #13


    I know there has been hysterics over the weekend with regards the Mane/Richie decisions respectively. Mane was correctly sent off considering he completely milled Ederson and could have seriously injured him. In the same token Richie should have been sent off on Sunday for endangering an opponent especially considering the Mane incident.

    Whilst I think the media hysterics about it are a bit over the top, we have to be mature enough to recognise when we got away with one.

  • Slank

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:34 AM

    Comment #14

    Ruddy Marveaux-lous @ 4

    I don’t know whether you saw the interview with Big Sam where he was asked what were his two priorities.

    His first was a clean sheet. His second was score a goal first before the opposition. He summed it up by saying that a single goal is all that is needed when you are not conceding. A single goal is much easier to achieve than two goals if the opposition has scored.

  • TyneMouth

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:40 AM

    Comment #15


    Yes, for once we did ‘ get away with one’ it doesn’t happen very often!

    However, I was not condoning dangerous play, just trying to rationalise the debate.

    A successful overhead kick is a thing of beauty, yes there is an element of danger, but the game is called ‘football’ after all!


    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:40 AM

    Comment #16

    I think merino and hayden have looked a good pair in midfield,height,graft,tackles, blocking,passing and energy so unless merino gets injured or dropped, shelvey will have to wait….tbh im not convinced a shelvey/merino partnership will work as shelvey doesn’t graft as hard as hayden and doesn’t win enough in the air for a big lad.

  • Ibizatoon

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:42 AM

    Comment #17

    Who’d have thought the key to winning games was to not concede whilst being able to score at least one yourself?

    Such a shame for England that Sam didn’t get to put this brilliance into practice.

    He also said he would have looked into the players mental states as we tend to choke at big tournaments. The man just sees things the rest of us mere mortals can’t.

    Sarcasm done (for now). Obviously he’s not wrong, just stating the bleedin’ obvious.

  • Slank

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:45 AM

    Comment #18

    Ruddy Marveaux-lous @ 13

    I think it’s only a controversy because of two different verdicts on basically identical incidents.

    Either both players should have received red cards or both should have received yellow.

    It’s a very difficult situation for a ref to make a snap judgement. Interestingly if both attacking players had gone with their head and not their feet I’m sure there would have been no cards shown even though both actions are potentially dangerous.

    Interestingly, what would the ref do in a situation whereby a goal was scored with an overhead kick, where the players foot tends to be at head height ?

    Glad I’m not a ref.

  • Lindisfarne

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:46 AM

    Comment #19


    From what I saw of Shelvey lad night, he did not look that interested. Imo Hayden will want to make up for his performance and Ritchie in the #10 would toughen up the midfield, with Murph/Atsu on wings.

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:47 AM

    Comment #20

    If we pass and move with pace as we have done the last two games and keep the ball on the deck and don’t get dragged into there style of play – I think we can overcome there physical approach and beat them – going to be tough.

    Would love tjust to see the whingeing Mark Hughes blaming everyone but himself

  • Bobbybee

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:48 AM

    Comment #21

    At the start of the season I pointed out that we would play this way more so this season than last – sucking them in and hitting on the break. It’s basically down to making the most of what you’ve got.
    What we have got is a well drilled defence capable of frustrating their attack and pace for the quick break.
    Some pundits may view this as negative, but the reality is the opposite, because now it’s not our only option.
    Last season losing Shelvey left us really struggling, whereas this season we have Merino more than capable of filling the void. We also have a target man who hold the ball up, win headers and not so much a slouch as Mitro. Not meaning that derogatory, but pace clearly isn’t his strong point.
    We showed against West Ham and Swansea that we’re not entirely a hit on the break team this season, but have added the plus of being able to build from the back against much better opposition than we faced last season.
    Still in for a tough season, but if we can add a couple more in January then it won’t be as tough as maybe I first thought.
    We’ve got the Rafa factor, which nobody around us can match and a loyal fan base that will give the team plenty of backing.
    Personally I love this siege mentality we’re building. Let the pundits underrate us by all means – bring it on I say.
    One word of caution must be Merino. He’s a young lad and some time this season he may hit a bad patch. Let’s not go too far overboard now and allow him to grow naturally, so if he does hit that bad patch he can rely on us to help him through it.

  • Slank

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:49 AM

    Comment #22


    I think Big Sam was having a dig at De Boer who wanted a more expansive game.

  • Bobbybee

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:55 AM

    Comment #23

    Slank, that’s Sam all over. Don’t forget he said he could manage Barcelona or Real just as well as anybody else. 🙂

  • Ibizatoon

    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:59 AM

    Comment #24

    Slank..Probably. He’s usually having a dig at someone, especially if they don’t view football the same as him.

  • Hooded Claw

    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:01 AM

    Comment #25

    Stats for statos points for fans

  • Onn

    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:01 AM

    Comment #26

    Why can’t MA lift Rafa by helicopter?

  • Bobbybee

    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:07 AM

    Comment #27

    I don’t see any need for a change in the rules re high feet, they just need to be used correctly.
    A high foot is dangerous play as long as it doesn’t connect, which should be an indirect free kick. A kick in the head is violent conduct which is a direct free kick and a card. Refs just need to be consistent, which is nothing new really.

  • lochinvar

    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:09 AM

    Comment #28

    Ok so we’re still talking about the high leg incidents
    Actually think there were significant difference that need to be taken into account m’lud
    Mane’s challenge appears to be foot high and spear like, head on to keepers face.
    In mitigation Ritchie’s was not like that and he was attempting to cut out the ball while the defender was 45 degrees to his right and his face was not in the line of sight and he arrived late and led with his arm into the situation.

    For the pundits to moan on about them being the same is crass – they were similar but different.

    For Liverpool to appeal Manes red card is nonsense – The FA need to stick by the decision otherwise they will confirm everyone’s belief that they are swayed by big club mentality, Sky and money talks

    And have the FA charged Hughes and Moanriniho yet – both need a fine and a spell in the stands

  • Bobbybee

    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:19 AM

    Comment #29

    The kick on Mbemba was closer to Mane’s than Ritchie. Both made contact to the head area and caused physical damage, whereas Ritchie just about scraped his shoulder. All three were wrong, let’s be honest, but Ritchie’s was the least of the three.
    Anyway, moving on from that, Rafa’s got a few selection problems ahead of the Stoke game. What a great problem to have! 🙂 Three great centre backs with only two places. Ditto midfield. Can’t see him changing the pattern, so good players will have to sit it out. Makes this next week in training all the more interesting.
    Good point, the togetherness looks really strong, so I can’t see any sulking taking place, just those who miss out encouraging those who play. Just how you want it.

  • cestriasteve

    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:26 AM

    Comment #30

    Any thoughts on the possibility of us going 3 at the back.

  • Bobbybee

    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:31 AM

    Comment #31

    Steve, yeah – not likely to happen! 🙂 There are a couple of options Rafa could use, but I just don’t see him making big changes, especially as what he’s doing now is working well.
    He could also go 433 and fit all three midfielders in, but I don’t see that happening either. Not that I would object, I just think he’s setting us up to play on the break and he’s got players that fit that option.

  • martoon

    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:56 AM

    Comment #32

    I was just thinking how there is a thin line between success and failure. When Lascelles fell on the ball if he had handled it and gave away a penalty we could easily have lost 1 – 0 – could you imagine the dog’s abuse he would have got on here? However he didn’t and we all know what happened next 🙂

  • The next Mike Williamson

    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:59 AM

    Comment #33

    I’m glad I was wrong about Benitez’s hernia being an excuse 🙂

    I feel a bit sorry for Shelvey. He was probably our best player last season and his passing was essential to our quick counter attacking. He’s unlucky that possibly our two best players play in same position. I’m sure he will still get lots of games. I’ve got a feeling Merino will be worth £20-40m by the end of the season. Especially when you compare him to Sissoko, Wimmer, Ake, Ibe, Kyle Walker or any of the players coming from Benfica and Monaco the last couple of years.

  • Tsunki

    Sep 12, 2017 at 12:04 PM

    Comment #34

    Watching shelvey yesterday was interesting. I don’t think he played much differently than he does in first team except he was noticeably higher for large parts of the game. He wanders all over the place, strolling around looking disinterested, but randomly speeds up and starts running into spaces, creating room and of course typically spraying cutting passes around the park. Maybe that the strength of his style – hard to track, difficult to predict. He was noticeably better at protecting the ball inidfirld under pressure

  • The next Mike Williamson

    Sep 12, 2017 at 12:04 PM

    Comment #35

    With Lascelles being young and English if he has another 2-3 good games before January we might be to sell him for a ridiculous price. I think that one good game alone has probably added £5-10m to his value.

  • Tsunki

    Sep 12, 2017 at 12:05 PM

    Comment #36

    That last word was “midfield”

  • EllaGuru

    Sep 12, 2017 at 12:10 PM

    Comment #37

    I have been a supporter of Newcastle since the early 90s and can honestly say that this is the first time we have ever had what could be considered a mean defence. Rafa has worked miracles already!

  • Jack Root

    Sep 12, 2017 at 12:23 PM

    Comment #38

    Bobby b
    I can’t see Rafa changing from 4-2-3-1 a formation that worked a treat on Sunday. Much has been made of player responsibility and attack minded players having to put in a lot more work defensively. Well the stats clearly showed Swansea having the lions share of possession because we let them pass at will in their own half. This was also without our forward players getting isolated.

    Ritchie has the engine to painstakingly work his socks off and is a key component . Personally I think Rafa’s fitting the formation to the players but players clearly have to buy into the need to constantly work hard. The two fullbacks can’t afford to misstime their runs and Gamez is perfect for the formation as he’s an experienced player. Atsu looked lost at times but his pace at SJP is always an asset in this formation.

    We will need a disciplined performance against Stoke who will cause different problems.
    From what I’ve seen this season Rafa noticeably uses the best all round types like Ritchie on the same side/ wing as the opposition best all round player / winger this without leaving us with an isolated striker. Merino was as an attacking midfielder helping out in defence – Hayden went missing at times. Might be too early for Shelvey to start but I see him featuring.

  • catchy in norway

    Sep 12, 2017 at 12:31 PM

    Comment #39


    did u understand what i was saying on both things you have pointed out?

    Yes Krul made some mistakes in games, but i pointed out one game where he was head and shoulders above every play on the pitch, i never said he was outsanding in every game,
    Lascelles is a liability in most matches for us, being at fault for a hell of a lot of goals we concede, right now between him and Manquilio, there are both at fault for all of our goals. IMO

    i suffer from dyslexia and ADD, and whilst fools like you have put me down my whole life for silly things like spelling, i know i have done very well for myself inspite of ignorant people like you.

  • Lindisfarne

    Sep 12, 2017 at 12:38 PM

    Comment #40

    Charlie @20

    I agree but do you think Rafa will stick with the same players?


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