He Is The Unluckiest Player At Newcastle This Season

Ciaran Clark started the season alongside Florian Lejeune when Newcastle were at home to Tottenham in the first game back in August.

But then Florian was injured after a poor tackle from Harry Kane in the first half and was out of the side for several weeks.

Ciaran and captain Jamaal Lascelles were the two in the middle as they had been all last season and they played well.

But then after the last International break, Rafa rested those players who had been away on International duty and Lejeune came in to partner Lascelles at Southampton.

Ciaran Clark – must be wondering what he did wrong

Lejeune gave away a late penalty in that game but otherwise looked class at the back, and he was good against Crystal Palace last weekend too.

So Ciaran Clark along with Chancel Mbemba – who hasn’t even made the last two squads – have to fight for their places in the first team.

This is Rafa’s plan that good players are fighting for their starting positions at Newcastle and the competition for places will only become even more severe after each of the next few transfer windows.

Rafa has explained the situation at the moment with his four center-backs as reported in the Chronicle:

“We have four defenders: Mbemba has been playing as a left-back and right full-back because we didn’t have players for these positions in some games.”

“It’s difficult, I was explaining in an interview before – you have to pick 11 players for the game and seven for the bench. So that’s simple.”

“It’s mathematics. You have to leave seven, eight or nine players out.”

“If you want to play with three center-backs, fine – they can all play. If you want to play with two center-backs and a line of midfielders in front, someone has to go to the stands. “

“Because Lejeune and Clark were playing well during the pre-season, Lascelles had to improve and he did that.”

“Jamaal is now doing really well so Lejeune and Clark are competing. If Mbemba is right, it’s four.”

“For me, it is not that one of them is better than the other one. It depends on the games: maybe you have some injuries. One will play, the other will have to wait.”

“I was talking with Jamaal, Mbemba, Clark and Lejeune about that. They have to compete. They have to be ready.”

“Because if tomorrow I say to one of them ‘You’re playing’ but he has not trained well and then does not play well, the fans will say ‘Rafa was right – he didn’t play because he is not playing well.’

“They have to be ready, they have to compete. If you want to play for a top side in the Premier League, you have to be prepared to compete (for your place).

Chancel Mbemba had been playing at left back after Paul Dummett was also injured in the first half against Tottenham, and the DR Congo International played very well.

But Rafa has switched 23-year-old Javier Manquillo over to left-back, and the Spaniard has done well in that position over the last several games.

We are in the process of seeing Rafa Benitez build a top squad at Newcastle with the competition for places at the club becoming severe.

And while it was not a good summer transfer window for Newcastle, we see new signings Florian Lejeune, Christian Atsu, Javier Manquillo, Mikel Merino and Joselu all playing regularly for the first team.

Obviously, Rafa knew what he was doing in the summer even though we didn’t get his first choices through the door.

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Comments welcome.

25 comments so far

  • jesperfuglsang - capt'n awesome of the lemon crew

    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:21 PM

    Comment #1

    It’s a long season Ed and the players will benefit from rotation!

    There’s nothing unlucky about the Clark situation…nothing more than other players!

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:22 PM

    Comment #2


    That’s one possibility. 🙂

    But it was more intended as an acerbic/scornful jibe at the total lack of penalties given by refs in our favour this season.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:27 PM

    Comment #3

    If anything it’s Mbemba who’s been the unlucky one, he probably has the edge over Manquillo but needs to be in the team to prove it and I don’t think that Rafa is in the tinkering mould.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    Comment #4

    The next bus is imminent, it’s a bit like waiting for hours to spot The Flying Scotsman only to have the 125 pass by at the same time so it’s completely missed. Which actually happened to some poor dedicated trainspotters recently, available on youtube. 🙂

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:33 PM

    Comment #5

    Anyone forget to turn their clocks back?

  • cyprus

    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:35 PM

    Comment #6

    Clark and Mbemba have been unlucky. It’s rare we’ve had 4 equally gifted CBs.

    Hope Rafa starts Mitrovic Merino. Think he won’t.

  • Jib

    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:38 PM

    Comment #7

    Soton ahead in the South coast derby

  • Jib

    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:40 PM

    Comment #8

    We’ve still got Paul D to return to the mix !

  • Thump

    Oct 29, 2017 at 1:40 PM

    Comment #9

    Not unlucky, he just hasn’t done enough. Some great games from the lad, but almost every game he does something stupid that he’s been very lucky not to get sent off, or given a penalty away.

    …of course, Lejeune comes back, has a corking game, then gives away a penalty.

  • magpie_in_ohio

    Oct 29, 2017 at 2:13 PM

    Comment #10

    It will only become more crowded when Dummett returns and if we sign a defender in January. It’s a good “problem” to have. We have to trust Rafa.

  • Rotonda heights

    Oct 29, 2017 at 2:20 PM

    Comment #11


    what you know about football you could write on the back of a stamp. You offend me coming on here spouting off when you are so clearly challenged on all matters football related and yet you try and disrupt conversations where people actually know what they’re talking about . You are one miserable, ignorant blowhard always calling out Rafa yet over everything, yet I seem to remember you constantly sticking up for the johnstone painters trophy winner with his wonderful pulse racing anti football and negative GD every season. That is why you should really stick to gaelic football perhaps because you embarrass yourself with your contant contradictions. I’m no cactus expert but I know a p—k when I see one.

  • Novocastrian66

    Oct 29, 2017 at 2:38 PM

    Comment #12

    Sparky; I think his off the field antics have cost him. Undoubtedly he was an exciting talent but he is looking like a busted flush now.
    That may have something to do with Hughes whom I don’t rate as a manager.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Oct 29, 2017 at 2:46 PM

    Comment #13

    Old Ranieri apparently doing a Leicester at Nantes, he has them in third. I wonder what the reason was that the Leicester players got him sacked. That’s effectively deliberately set out to do. They should all hang their heads in shame.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Oct 29, 2017 at 2:49 PM

    Comment #14

    What they set out to do.

  • Jib

    Oct 29, 2017 at 2:53 PM

    Comment #15
  • catchy in norway

    Oct 29, 2017 at 2:53 PM

    Comment #16

    PERSONALLY, i think we have 3 players that shoiuld count them selves a bit unlucky,

    Mitrovic, Joselu is not in his league.

    Clarke and Mbemba are both are better than Lascelles as CBs and Mbemba is probably our best LB.

  • check the toastie

    Oct 29, 2017 at 2:55 PM

    Comment #17

    Rotonda – no need. It’s all about opinions, sometimes folks are different, weird old world we live in…
    Rafa was over cautious at times last year at times, and football was uninspiring however results are indisputable.
    This year he is doing a job which is beyond criticism.
    Perez and Joselu might as well be replaced by two 10k runners. Garbage on the ball currently, so so weak.

  • Jib

    Oct 29, 2017 at 2:55 PM

    Comment #18

    Allegedly it was Ulloa and Shakespeare combined

  • Jail for Ashley

    Oct 29, 2017 at 3:00 PM

    Comment #19

    I wonder how they managed to turn the whole team against him?

  • Jail for Ashley

    Oct 29, 2017 at 3:03 PM

    Comment #20

    My prediction that we’d be even stronger in the second half of the season as Rafa sussed teams out was very wrong, it seemed to be the other way round. I believe that had we signed Townsend those teams we’d already faced wouldn’t have known what had hit them.

  • AncientC

    Oct 29, 2017 at 3:05 PM

    Comment #21

    I am expecting Everton to pull a Leicester (Ranieri), ironically against Leicester today. Watch Everton go out and trounce Leicester, leaving everybody scratching their heads as to why they were not doing it a few weeks ago.

  • Jib

    Oct 29, 2017 at 3:16 PM

    Comment #22

    The South coast derby moving towards a draw
    Excellent for us
    Everton vs The Foxes
    Two managerless teams
    When was the last time that happened in the PL ?
    If ever

  • Jib

    Oct 29, 2017 at 3:17 PM

    Comment #23

    Shit I forgot about Claude Puel

  • Jail for Ashley

    Oct 29, 2017 at 3:17 PM

    Comment #24

    Have all three promoted clubs stayed up before?

  • jesperfuglsang - capt'n awesome of the lemon crew

    Oct 29, 2017 at 4:17 PM

    Comment #25

    That is one weird Everton team tonight, but a very capable bench…very capable indeed!

    …could be a draw I think or small Leicester victory


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