Rafa Explains Why It’s Important To Get 3 Points When Not At Your Best

After the game this afternoon, which was very even between two sides who did not show much creativity,  manager Rafa Benitez has pointed out in games like this – it’s even more important to get a win.

We were nowhere near our best this afternoon, but we were solid at the back and managed to get a clean sheet although Palace had their chances to score, especially in the first half.

It was a good goal from Mikel Merino with just 4 minutes to play that got us the 3 points when the Spanish U21 International headed the ball past Julian Sperino unchallenged from a good Matt Ritchie corner.

Rafa Benitez – smiling as he arrives for the game today

Rafa has brought in players with very good character who stuck to their tasks this afternoon and that doggedness was rewarded when we got the winner late in the game.

This is what Rafa Benitez said after the game as reported in the Chronicle:

“In this case, without playing at the level at which we have been playing in the past, it’s even more important for us to get three points.”

“The way that we scored, good delivery, good determination from Merino, that is also really important to show the character of the team.”

“And until the end we were trying to control, to attack, to push and that is what we have to do.

“We knew when he (Mikel Merino) was in Osasuna he was strong in corners,” “We knew about this option.”

“It’s not the main thing, the best thing he can do because he can pass the ball and he has scored for Spain’s Under-21s with his feet.”

“Could we play a little bit better? Maybe, but Palace were well-organized, they have confidence, they have pace, good counter-attack.”

“So it was important for us to keep them at the bottom of the table by winning against them.”

“When you win a game you have to be really pleased.”

Next up is Burnley a week on Monday evening away.

They lost 3-0 today at Manchester City who go 5 points clear at the top of the table with a goal difference of 28 from their 9 games.

Manchester United didn’t turn up at Huddersfield today and the newly promoted side got a famous and well deserved 2-1 win.

Good for the Terriers – as all 3 promoted sides won in this round of games with Brighton winning 3-0 at West Ham last night.

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Comments welcome.

71 comments so far

  • GeordieTwo

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:24 PM

    Comment #1

    A horrible match to watch. What was Perez on the pitch for? He was terrible yet again. Hoser Loo got no service whatsoever. Shelvey’s passing was poor for much of the game. We only started to look better when the subs came on, especially Merino. We desperately need a decent striker in January. Talk about a statement of the obvious.

  • neverwin

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:26 PM

    Comment #2

    Why after getting our best player Merino to sign a permanent deal is he immediately BENCHED.
    I am told by Liverpool supporters that this typical Benitez – no logic

  • jesperfuglsang - capt'n awesome of the lemon crew

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:28 PM

    Comment #3

    Congratulations on the 3 points today!

    …I know it’s early but how great would it be if Palace, Stoke and WHam all went down!

  • GeordieTwo

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:30 PM

    Comment #4

    We’ve got Chelsea, Arsenal, and Man City in December so make hay in Novermber lads. We’ll need the points. Very uncertain looking 11 out there to start today. We can’t continue to go on like this. Time to move a couple of players out of the starting lineup. Certainly Perez doesn’t deserve his place. And I’m losing faith with Hoser Loo as well but really he had no service whatsoever. We need a strong, more capable player like Merino in there from the start.

  • geordiesteve520

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:31 PM

    Comment #5

    @2 I am not sure there’s not logic behind the decision, thinking about Gerrard’s comments he says Benitez always wanted more and perhaps this is his way of making Merino aware of this.

  • cyprus

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:32 PM

    Comment #6

    I see Merino is going for MOM, although he had uncharacteristically many misplaced passes. I get it however, he got the winning goal in a very poor display.

    For me, Yedlin was the best of a poor team.

    I must admit I like looking at the table but I’ll also admit I’m looking at the 40 point mark. This team is nowhere near good enough to feel comfortable. If palace is theoretically the worst team, how much better are we than them?

    Hard to guess who’s going down, really. Usually one of the promoted teams (which one? They’re doing ok) and, say, West Ham and Stoke. But it’s way too early…

  • Ron Knee

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:34 PM

    Comment #7

    It’s testament to Rafa that we’ve got 14 points at this stage.

  • cyprus

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:36 PM

    Comment #8

    Although the title may be already locked 🙂

  • hibbit

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:37 PM

    Comment #9

    Not the best game of the season but 3 very good points

    MoM Lejeune outstanding

  • cyprus

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:39 PM

    Comment #10

    Yes he was alright too. All defenders did ok. Strange association: nufc- good defense.

  • hibbit

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:45 PM

    Comment #11


    Manquillo was by far our best fullback today
    Yedlin was caught out of position so many times not at his best today

  • cyprus

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:51 PM

    Comment #12

    Look at the votes 😉

    But I get you, they’re all pretty good. Clark, arguably our best defender, is out. Mbemba has been been tops, in my mind better than Manquilo in a position he’s not supposed to be. But Manquilo was alright too.

  • Ron Knee

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:53 PM

    Comment #13

    According to the BBC:

    Rafael Benitez has never lost a home league game in English football against a coach who has also managed the English national team (W17 D4).

  • Hail Wor Ashley

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:55 PM

    Comment #14

    Yedlin was the weak link in defence.

    Out of position.
    Poor tackling, either too soft or then trying to make up for it and been too rash.
    Passing was woeful, but he wasn’t alone there.

    Lascelle’s was the pick of the bunch for me. Coped with everything, read the game well, showed a turn of pace on a few occasions when slower defenders would have been in trouble.

    Lejeune was on a par with Lascelle’s aside from getting fooled by Townsend for his yellow card.

    Manquillo – solid defsnively but so awkward going forward and has no understanding with Atsu whatsoever. Gamez in his single appearance at LB was better than anything Manquillo has shown there so far and God knows what happened to Mbemba,

  • hibbit

    Oct 21, 2017 at 7:57 PM

    Comment #15

    i’v looked at the vote and i dont agree folk on here are voting for Merino because he scored nowt else

    in the game i was at Lejeune was MoM

  • bettyswallocks

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:00 PM

    Comment #16

    Hard to watch at times and very frustrating to see so many backward passes. Still three points makes up for it I suppose.

    Jesper…….. Did you watch it? You didn’t miss much if you weren’t allowed to watch it.

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:08 PM

    Comment #17


    Agree entirerly with you on my MOM LeJuene – oozes cllass
    And Yedlin – gets caught out of position which leaves to much space for opposition to run and quite often has speed gets him out of of situations with last minute tackles

    Just got in
    what did I think great 3 points but a poor display for most of the game until Merino and Diame came on.
    With Shelvey in the team alongside Hayden and Perez the team is to predictable and easy to defend against. To manty square and back passes as there was lack of movement all over the pitch

    All Hayden and Perez do is look for Shelvey who all to often looks for the Hollywood ball as the team are to static and tries to make things happen with long floated balls which are easy to cut out.

    As soon as Diame and Merino came on the Palce players had two other players who could pass the ball and like to go forward and carry the ball or pass forward with a bit more pace and movement.

    Palace oplayed the better football but at the same time looked unlikely to score unless a deflected goal or long shot.

    My MOM was LeJuene who was outstanding – what a buy.
    also Lascalles did his England chances no harm with a solid performance in front of Southgate

    my merit marks.
    Elliot- 7 had one of the quitest games he will have, but needs to make up hgis mind quicker when passing out of defence.
    Manqulla 7.5 his best game so far in a TOON shirt
    LeJuene 9 – Oustanding defending got in some great tackles and blocks also very comfortable on the ball passes it well
    Lascalles 8 – Another steady game and drove forward second half
    Yedlin 6 – Our weak link in defence willing runner but got caught out of position to many times
    Shelvey 7 – his passing was a Tad off today but tried to make things happen when the rest were standing still. Looks slow at times and gave away stupid free kicks at the end with his lack of tackling ability.
    Hayden 6 – Ok but needs to do more with the ball than just pass it to Shelvey.
    Ritchie 6 – poorest game this season to many passes went astray was loosing his head near the end – but still produced the pass/corner for the goal
    Perez 6 – A lot of running around with no end result – anothr who gave the ball away all to often – and his control let him down badly today
    Joselu 6 – started well but faded as the game went on could of easily been sent off if ref had given him second yellow
    Atsu 6 Another who got into good positions but was wasteful with his crosses

    Merino 7.5 made the difference in the TOON’s play when introduced and scored – help to loosen the shackles off shelvey – carried the ball forward and made a couple of good forward runs and capped his performance with his goal.
    Diame 7 like Merino wanted the ball and again drove forward with the ball
    Mitrovich – not on long enough

  • Shoulders knees

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:17 PM

    Comment #18

    Charlie, Hibbit

    Totally agree Lejuene MOM,

    Terrible game but fantastic 3pts

    Can see why people voted Merino for goal but he was off pace early on after he replaced Hayden, last two home goals came from defenders hitting our lads with ball,although Merino knew moire about it than Joselu

  • Mindshaft

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:30 PM

    Comment #19

    Agree on Lejeune on MOM, Lascelles also had a decent game – not sure which game some people watch on here the way they vote for MOM…

  • Clematis

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:33 PM

    Comment #20

    A horrible game to watch? Nar, it wasn’t.

    I was there and it was end to end. It maybe lacked a bit of quality but both teams went for it. And we were the better team.

    Palace had a go but we defended like our lives depended on it. I feel sorry for Clark but Lejoune oozed class.

    We didn’t get going but it was kind of difficult when we were getting chopped down repeatedly.

    I don’t agree about Yedlin, either. He was mint. I have never seen a player so small outjump sixfooters with ease.

    1-0 to the Arsenal used to get all the headlines. And we deserve some of that, too.

    A win is a win is a win.

    Oh, and nee one has mentioned that cnut Cabaye. That pr!ck should have been redcarded.


  • catchy in norway

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:39 PM

    Comment #21

    Yedlin MOM for me, very very disappointed in Joselu and Perez today, we had nothing from them two.
    Mitro has to start soon

  • lochinvar

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:41 PM

    Comment #22

    Spot on – we saw the same game and should have put that out of sight earlier if we had a little bit more tempo up front and some better crossing but still lacking some firepower. I’m sure we need to have more shots from outside the box if we can make the space which is where Perez needs to contribute so maybe Merino can fill that role – great goal for the lad .

  • Clematis

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:46 PM

    Comment #23

    Loch @ 22: 🙂

  • beermonkey

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:50 PM

    Comment #24

    3 points closer to safety and 1 day closer to new owners

  • jazzyp

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:56 PM

    Comment #25

    Just got home from a treacherous drive back down the A1 through storm Brian.Jesus h Christ was it bad, Felt like the wind was trying to blow the car sideways, Could hardly see anything through the driving rain.. Was hit by Debris on the road which took a side panel off the Landrover

    But hey we won boys that’s all that matters.
    On the performance thought we were bang average but still won.
    Perez an absolute pile of Shite and a waste of a shirt.
    Shelvey was way off today and wouldn’t have impressed Southgate in the stand.
    And for me we sat back at the beginning of the second half and let em start to dictate the game.That all changed when Merino came on as we pressed and attacked the game more.
    Not a great game but who gives a monkey. Say it quietly SIXTH

  • ShirebrookToon

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:59 PM

    Comment #26

    Lejeune gets my vote for MOM

    Ugly win but a win nonetheless. Cabaye should have been sent off for that awful challenge on Yedlin. Did Perez have his slippers on today. The amount of times he fell on his arse, jeez.

    Diame (would you believe it) and Merino changed the game and we looked more of a threat! Diame producing the first shot on target after 72 mins

  • beermonkey

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:59 PM

    Comment #27


    Glad u got home safe

  • Ron Knee

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:00 PM

    Comment #28
  • ShirebrookToon

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:04 PM

    Comment #29

    Not to mention the three times we stopped to try and put the panel back on. Left hand side of my face still hasn’t thawed out fully yet 😆

  • Shoulders knees

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:05 PM

    Comment #30

    Ron Knee

    Dodgy tackle in more than one way 😉

  • catchy in norway

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:07 PM

    Comment #31

    Red card all day long,

  • geordiesteve520

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:12 PM

    Comment #32

    Bloody awful tackle that!

  • Black and white armpit

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:13 PM

    Comment #33

    Oh the irony If Palace go down, Townsend and Dreamboat leaving us for better things?

  • jazzyp

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:17 PM

    Comment #34


    I know mate it was an experience for sure lol. At least I can say I’ve been to Morrisons in Boroughbridge!!

  • jazzyp

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:23 PM

    Comment #35

    Another couple of points is that I thought the Ref had a poor game and was very inconsistent
    And Wilfred Zaha was forever diving around the pitch, Which led to the Cabaye tackle and the Mele that followed

  • Shoulders knees

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:26 PM

    Comment #36


    We would have been spared the sight of Cabayes knackers if he had booked Zaha 😉

  • jesperfuglsang - capt'n awesome of the lemon crew

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:29 PM

    Comment #37

    So no Amanda Staveley in the stand today?

    Jazzyp…I suppose it was your lunk you weren’t driving a mini…you would probably had lost more than a sidepanel

  • martoon

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:32 PM

    Comment #38

    I think it was the worst we’ve played this season but Palace were poor as well – Roy has got them organised but they’re not great. If you’re a Palace fan you’ll probably feel hard done by but I thought we did enough in the last 20 minutes to earn the win – we’ll probably play better than that and lose sometime!
    I have to say, for me, Lascelles was man of the match – some brilliant interceptions and last ditch tackles.

  • jazzyp

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:35 PM

    Comment #39


    Mate I do quite a bit of motorway driving, But coming home back down the A1 was stressful to say the least. I don’t even know what hit causing numerous stops to repair the damage

  • jazzyp

    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:43 PM

    Comment #40

    Walked past Gayle as we left Next to the player entrance. I didn’t realise how small the lad is!!


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