It was a complete shock when Rafa announced his side for the game yesterday at West Ham and we thought any chance of winning the game had gone.
Isaac Hayden, Mikel Merino and Florian Lejeune had all picked up knocks in training and Jojo Shelvey was suspended so it was down to Saivet and Diame.
Rafa had also placed the two of them on the transfer list on the preceding day and it was Saivet’s first ever league appearance under Rafa Benitez.
Henri Saivet – scored a great goal yesterday to put Newcastle level
This is what Rafa said about his selection which went over like a bomb (at least initially) with Newcastle fans:
“I could not say too much before the game about the selection because I knew West Ham manager David Moyes was listening,”
“But we had problems with Merino and Hayden, and Jonjo Shelvey was suspended.”
“Saivet understands the game. Technically, he’s good, and he can take free-kicks.”
“Both he and Diame are from Senegal, so it was important they understood each other and they did really well.”
“In terms of the club, you have to keep winning to be sure that you stay in the Premier League,”
“That’s the target. But for the fans this is about belief and showing we can win games and can compete.”
“You can see the team spirit and work rate of different players, but it doesn’t mean we don’t still need players to compete at another level.”
“They are different things.”
That last paragraph is in case Mike Ashley sees the win and thinks we now don’t need any reinforcements in January – the team should be able to get by.
Not do well – but just get by which seems to be Ashley’s ambitions for the club over the last 10 years.
Henri had a good game and he gave an excellent interview to nufcTV after the game – he comes over as a real team player who has just a fantastic attitude to the game.
It’s worth watching.
Not sure who will be available from those knocks for the tough home game against Manchester City on Wednesday – but Jonjo Shelvey is available after serving his two-match suspension.
We have moved up to 15th in the league table.