Why Newcastle Are Much Better Than Rafa Benitez Expected

When you look at the last three games which we have won, you see a Newcastle side that is well coached, compact, closing other players down and every player is working hard for the team.

And the team is primarily made up of the core of players Rafa coached last season.

But the players are now a lot better than a year ago and even improving as they get used to the much better Premier League.

Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles have looked very good players at the back as did DeAndre Yedlin at right back yesterday.

And Chancel Mbemba may only be filling in for Paul Dummett while he’s injured, but he’s turning out to be a capable full-back for Newcastle.

Rafa Benitez at his press conference on Friday

And it seems the young DR Congo International is back to his form during his first season on Tyneside.

And players like Isaac Hayden and newcomer Mikel Merino have been two young players who have looked good in central midfield while Jonjo Shelvey – a proven Premier League player – has been out suspended.

We also have Matt Ritchie playing in his best form since he arrived from Bournemouth last summer and Christian Atsu, who scored yesterday, already looks a better player than he was last season.

So the players Rafa has had for a year seem to have improved significantly and are looking very decent in the Premier League.

Rafa has also bought well even though they were not his first choice.

Mikel Merino is a young star in the making, Manquillo will give Yedlin significant competition at right back,  and Florian Lejeune looked very good in preseason and started the first game until he was injured.

So Newcastle have shown so far that the players we have are improving and at least against middle of the table sides like West Ham, Swansea and Stoke we can pick up the wins.

That’s also why Rafa is a lot more upbeat than he was several weeks ago,

He realizes he can have a top-eight side this season even though he will never say that in public.

Everything in Newcastle’s garden is looking rosy in the Premier League at the moment with Rafa Benitez in charge.

Not much difference from last year at this time.

Howay The Lads!!

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43 comments so far

  • Shot Bru

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:13 AM

    Comment #1

    Looks like Longstaff is having a great start to his loan spell at Blackpool.

    Could have a decent player on our hands there.He’s scoring some nice goals.

    Just shows you the benefits of getting the younger players out on loan early on in their careers for a change.

  • Mindshaft

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:14 AM

    Comment #2

    Top eight !!! Think someone is getting carried away – I’ll be happy with lower mid table and think that’s a good base to build on. Rafa will get transfer money for next season and we can build from there

  • catchy in norway

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:20 AM

    Comment #3

    BETWEEN Ritchie, Atsu, Mbemba, Yedling, they had 175 of our 485 touches, and when you see the heat map from them, you can see our game plan is keep the ball wide, Y and R play much higher up the pitch than M and A.

    Rafa plays simple football, he expects the players to be in positions and cover the grass

  • catchy in norway

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:23 AM

    Comment #4

    on the vote as to where will finish. i have gone for 11-17, but if there was a different spread, i would have gone for 8-13.

    one last point, De Boor went right down in my estimations as a manager the second he paid that amount for Sako. deserved to be sacked for that one buy

  • catchy in norway

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:24 AM

    Comment #5


  • Bobbybee

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:26 AM

    Comment #6

    We’ve had a great run of games and there’s no doubt we’ve surprised a lot of people with the quality we’ve shown, but let’s keep our feet planted firmly on the ground.
    Top eight may well be achievable this season, but stats tell us it’s also unlikely. Most promoted teams struggle to stay up, let alone challenge for Europa Cup places in their first season. Nobody should be getting too carried away just yet, we’ve got a lot of very hard games to come.
    Getting too far ahead of ourselves can only result in massive disappointment if we lose a string of games.
    So far so good, after a dodgy start, but most clubs have much more expensive squads than ours with more depth as well.
    I’m more than happy to enjoy the present, whilst well aware of what might lie around the corner.
    As Rafa keeps insisting – one game at a time. Still a long way to go yet.

  • Novocastrian66

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:26 AM

    Comment #7

    Great game yesterday and Newcastle deservedly won. Not sure what game Mark Hughes was watching. We battered them in the first half and should have had the game wrapped up at half time.
    They opened up in the second half which left space for us to exploit. We were on the end of some heavy handed defending which, coupled with more poor refereeing, got them off the hook from encouraging positions. Justice was served in the end with another towering header from Lascelles.
    The atmosphere was tremendous all and all a brilliant match day experience, one that has been missing for far too long. Hopefully there will be more days like this, as when the team are on song and supporters are behind the team there is no finer place to be than St James’ Park. Loved it.

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:28 AM

    Comment #8

    Someone previuos post mention Brighton as a banana skin.

    talk before the match after Southy had beaten Palace – that you know what is going to happen =
    next threee Palace games Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea – guess who comes after that – NEWCASTLE UNITED.
    Can see them going eight games without a point or a goal – and yes you have guessed it they break there duck at St James’s = ARGHHHHHH!!

  • Novocastrian66

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:29 AM

    Comment #9

    Catchy, I think DeBoer did not want Sakho and he was bought without his consent.

  • Billy Whitehursts V sign

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:30 AM

    Comment #10

    Mindshaft, made me wince too, top 8! Dont think so. Would be great if we did but I think we have to listen to Rafa i.e. not too excited when we win and don’t have a giant meltdown when we lose. Great start and virtually 25% of tbe target achieved (36 points may be enough?) Will still happily take 17th. How many promoted teams start well amd crumble? Stay grounded and realistic people but hope / dream of more 🙂

  • Belfast

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:38 AM

    Comment #11

    I think that was probably a clear indication that he wasn’t having much input in transfer affairs Catchy. De Boer signing a player that makes Mike Williamson look comfortable with the ball at his feet was a bit strange.

  • Belfast

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:41 AM

    Comment #12

    Eloquently put Novo.

  • magspuggy

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:52 AM

    Comment #13

    Lost my voice today dunno why 🙂
    Lesh i think you may have me mixed up with another poster mate i never said city looked awesome mate. Mind you the manc blues pretty much do 🙂

    Krul to be kind. There is always a seat on the happy bus if you want to join us mate 🙂

    After a poor start we are now off the mark and on wor way to getting the 40ish points we need to stay up imho anything else is a bonus if we keep playing like that and keep most of them fit we will do that nee bova and may even get to finish in the top half.

    For me atm matt ritchie is a god send and him and jamaal are linking up together really well. Even my wipping boy perez trys his heart out and i do want him to come good as tbh hes the best #10 we have atm.
    Maybe i just expect 2 much from the bairn but a goal every now and then would be nice or at least something to happen after the fancy flicks he does.
    All said and done i am a happy chappie today and with nee voice her indoors will be happy with the peace and quiet.

  • cyprus

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:55 AM

    Comment #14

    Like you say Ed, so far. So it’s early to make dramatic statements. We’ve really had only one poor game, though.

    I won’t make grandiose predictions or raise my expectations. A game at a time. But I’ll say this: I don’t remember a more solid defense with just as able substitutes. Ever.

  • toon kk

    Sep 17, 2017 at 11:59 AM

    Comment #15

    What’s really pleased me is our work rate, another fantastic result yesterday and three valuable points. Richie and lascelles are two out standing players for us. We desperately need a prolific striker in the future.
    It’s far more exciting knowing that our players are all wanting to do well for Newcastle.
    Great to get rid of players like Collo and Sissoko for example.

  • toontaff2

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:02 PM

    Comment #16

    Mags, we’ll have to swap our happy-clappy minibus for the mackem away day coach at this rate – we’ll be able to fill more seats than them!
    As others have already said, despite what v showed – the atmosphere was red-hot! My ears and throat are still sore! The singing section did a lap of the stadium before the game, followed by non-stop noise throughout the game. Between them and the Strawberry Corner, we have stereo in the Gallowgate, and plenty round me were lively too!

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:04 PM

    Comment #17

    The carl, Jack Root thing is wearing very thin, he has proven he very first posted as carl back in 2007, why not just keep it to one person as his posts aren’t bad when he isn’t licking hoop or attacking unworthy bloggers. Easy for you to say it’s not doing any harm but when someone is using multiple ID’s to validate his approved blogger list and attack other posters it is very annoying, you being on that list and not getting abused by his multiple aliases maybe don’t see it that way. It is weird and there’s no need to have more than one ID.

  • Offkey

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:05 PM

    Comment #18

    I read the blog and comments to listen to opinions of others, I don’t come on to read pretend ‘opinions’ from 1 man typing on 6 accounts

  • toontaff2

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:05 PM

    Comment #19

    Ritchie, MoM, all played well.
    My man of the season, Hayden, hindered again by early booking. Can I swap for Merino?
    Glad to see Perez getting praise – needs some goals, got him for top scorer!
    Did Joselu lose any aerial battles, all game, v the 3 giants? Shame he did not get at least 1, because his all round game was top notch!

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:07 PM

    Comment #20

    I knew there was going to be a good atmosphere yesterday, Rafa#s first day back, a winning feeling and a good old fashioned 3PM kick off on a Saturday, gutted I had to work, luckily I’ve got an excellent run of games coming up and will catch Burnley away as well, home for Christmas and New yaer so get both of them too. Thinking about West Ham away if I can persuade the Mrs to do a London shopping trip at the same time.

  • JP...from The Rock

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:12 PM

    Comment #21

    Top 8 LOL extremely optimistic Ed. Let’s not get delusional now. Top 8 would be an extremely successful season if that were to happen. But the more likely we’ll end up mid table which still in it self is brilliant. Considering how poor our transfer window seemed to be and keeping our core championship players. Rafa deserves huge credit as he has improved all our players and they all look above their normal level. They keep getting better by each game and I love how hard we are to beat right now. Rafa’s creating a really strong team here and all the foundations are here already. Every pkayer fights for each other and it’s grest to see.

    Imagine what Rafa could have done with his first choice players in the transfer window.

  • toontaff2

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:15 PM

    Comment #22

    Jail, what I have found very weird, on 2 occasions I have had the misfortune to offend some delicate souls, that I then get accused of 1)stalking or 2)having multiple ID’s/ruining the blog for all!
    1) Turned out, it was another poster, ToonTime, who had upset the delicate soul, but he/she attributed her angst to me. My stalking seemed to be caused by a flippant remark about letting Rafa know the poster disagreed with his team selection!
    2) My recent ‘spat’ appears to be because I dared to question our resident ‘expert’ about his constant strange opinions. You’ve all seen his pathetic attempts to get others to join his crew, to gang up, like bullies in the schoolyard – as a grown man, I find this poster to be a pathetic, tosser, to use his own acceptable language.
    Even in his short reappearance, on here, he has managed to argue with at least half a dozen others, so I won’t take his insults personally!
    I do find it bizarre, that he accused me of being other posters, and seemed to be so excited about my use of 2, at the end of my username.

  • ShirebrookToon

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:20 PM

    Comment #23

    Throat is sore. Voice is croaky. Ears still ringing. Those who said the crowd were quiet yesterday need to listen to those who attended the game. It was electric. The Joselu chant could be heard from a few but others were looking round thinking wtf 😆
    Tried to show the lads the video around me but fat chance of that. Stoke had 12 men as the ref was digging out blind to give them every decision possible.

  • magspuggy

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:20 PM

    Comment #24

    Taff. If need be mate i know where there is a load of spare seats we could nick they are pink so will need a quick coat of paint b4 adding to the bus 🙂
    Toon 4th from top unwashed 4th bottom
    Enjoy it while it lasts i say. We have a team that trys and thats what makes the noise at church its heartbreaking to see them not give a flying f##k so this lot are well worth the racket atm. Its great not to have a player who did not give his all yesterday even if it did not work as long as they try the best they can thats half the job sorted.

    Exciting times ahead and we can do this we know we can and sjp being the 12th man makes the place all the stronger.


  • toontaff2

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:21 PM

    Comment #25

    BTW, in between some really hilarious remarks by a number of posters, during and after the game, our spatmaster has clearly tried to continue his ‘spat’ with me, whilst carrying on spats with others!
    I had intended to avoid mention of it, and no doubt he will be back to have the last say – along the lines of piss-stear or pisswhatever, he wants to call me, but eventually he will hopefully crawl back into his hole, again!
    Going off this blog, though, no doubt he will bear a grudge for 10 years and more!

  • toontaff2

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:25 PM

    Comment #26

    Mags, great thought there – recycling those unused seats! Make sure you wash them first, though, they may have been sat on at one time – the cheesy chip smears will be the giveaway!
    Shire, the Joselu chant from the singing section was a bit ironic!!!

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:26 PM

    Comment #27

    Morning Jail

    How’s the head this morning ? Not as bad as mine I hope.

    I completely agree with all your recent comments and as per usual you hit the nail on the head.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:29 PM

    Comment #28

    We could maybe meet up in London if you like ? I know a nice rooftop terrace with great coffee.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:31 PM

    Comment #29

    Must dash now. Good luck.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:33 PM

    Comment #30

    Sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick Jail. Your a good bloke.

  • Bobbybee

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:33 PM

    Comment #31

    Jail, are you really complaining about anybody attacking other posters? Seriously?
    I think I put up with more than my fair share of being attacked on here. 🙂
    Did I not say it’s odd if he does post as more than one person? I know I did. But then, I don’t know for sure he does. I do know that if something is repeated often enough, people tend to believe it, whether it’s true or not.
    Not sure how it matters if it’s one person or just the same ones over and over again backing each other up whether they’re right or wrong, it still gets boring.
    2007? Seriously? Just let it go ffs. Maybe he has multiple personality disorder, or maybe they are separate people? Nobody knows for certain.
    Regardless, it doesn’t hurt anybody. Maybe an ego or two, but big deal. That happens a lot on here. For someone who spends a lot of his time digging at other people, you really shouldn’t be so sensitive. Learn to let the past go mate, it’s dragging you down.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:34 PM

    Comment #32

    Bye Jail. thanks.

  • magspuggy

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:38 PM

    Comment #33

    Taff. The gumtree ad says nearly new but with water damage i thinks its from the tears of the dammed. We are so lucky not to find ourselves in that mess tbh players like ritchie dropping down a level to play for rafa made us strong enough to bounce back. Having him here makes all the differance to us ashley has to allow him to grow the club and keep him happy.
    Look what he has done with so little and think what he could do …

  • Bobbybee

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:43 PM

    Comment #34

    Anyway, gonna go watch some football. Said my bit on the subject and it really isn’t worth arguing over it. We all have our preferred posters if we’re honest, we just don’t write them down as a rule. Does it matter? Just seems a lot of niggling over nothing.
    Enjoy your day lads, some good games to watch or just enjoy yesterday – it was well worth enjoying. Later.

  • Shoulders knees

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:45 PM

    Comment #35

    Just popped in to say Good win yesterday.
    sorry to see we are still falling out with each other :-((

  • Jail for Ashley

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:45 PM

    Comment #36

    The other day I made a valid point about the posters who wanted Rafa to stfu and get on with it are the ones now saying that this season is about rebuilding for the future, presumably with Rafa after being told to stfu. This resulted in a three post tirade of you calling me sad, pathetic muppet and making up lies that I called for a boycott.
    Ian Toon has just returned after a three or four month retirement and had a dig at me in his first post and you want me to let it go.
    It has been proven beyond doubt that Carl has multiple Id’s if he has got multiple personality disorder then that’s a different matter.

  • hibbit

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:46 PM

    Comment #37

    Ron put a re run of the game up on here this morning and sky have definitely been playing with the volume of the crowd within the ground it does come across as very quite and not like the noise / atmosphere of the actual game

  • magspuggy

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:53 PM

    Comment #38

    Hibbit. I find that quite strange but it does seem to happen often. For me yesterday sjp was louder as it has been for a while all be it not as good as it used to be when we all stood up. I wonder if thats the same at other parks as well ? Would safe standing change it back or is it gone forever ?

  • ShirebrookToon

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:55 PM

    Comment #39

    Yeah I noticed that mate. Same on MOTD aswell. Does seem like we’re not liked very much. They must hate it when we win

  • Belfast

    Sep 17, 2017 at 12:58 PM

    Comment #40

    I think you Jesper and Manxpie should hug it out Toontaff. Jesper has fallen out with most people on here at some point. He’s left more times than Steve Claridge.


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