Rafa Benitez Opens Up About His Players


Rafa explained his team selection after the game, and it’s always tricky when you have 4 games in 9 days and two in the last three games.

Players will be tired and prone to pick up injuries.

Rafa elected to play Ayoze Perez and Christian Atsu up front together, and they did quite well with both Joselu and Gayle on the bench.

Rafa says he knew Atsu could play in that position because he knew him before he came to Newcastle.

It all worked well today, but the primary element in the win was the determination and work-rate of our players.

And that came after what was a disappointing display at home in the 0-0 draw against Brighton.

Mark Hughes meets Rafa Benitez – before the kick-off

But they turned things around today to their credit.

This is what Rafa said in the Chronicle after the game:

“We started really well this season then we had a bad run and lost confidence, but still the team was working hard.”

“It is one thing for me as a manager saying the players are working and don’t give up, but you could see it today.”

“It was an example of a team working hard.” “Stoke worked so hard and it was difficult for us.”

“It was really good. The way that the players were working on the pitch and trying to do everything was really pleasing.”

“It was difficult for us. The team selection was tough because the players were tired after Brighton.”

“We had to mix it a little bit and it worked quite well.”

“I knew that Atsu can play in this position and Ayo has clever movement.”

“The understanding was good between both (Atsu and Perez).”

“The rest of the team helped with good passes and after they defended all together, that was the key.”

“We needed to cope with Stoke’s pressure. They put in crosses and we did well.”

“We had two or three counter-attacks that could have finished the game.”

We now have 22 points out of our 22 games, and we need 6 wins in the last 16 games to reach the (hopeful) safety of 40 points.

Who Was Newcastle's Best Player At Stoke?

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Comments welcome.


186 comments so far

  • Frank pingles come sock

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:34 PM

    Comment #1

    1st

    3
  • ronaldo aarons

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:45 PM

    Comment #2

    NUFC Index
    @NUFC_Index
    ·
    1h
    In fact, no player on the pitch won possession back more times than Mo Diame today – 10 #nufc
    No player won more aerial duels than Mo Diame (8) #nufc

    20
  • jesperfuglsang - capt'n awesome of the lemon crew

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:47 PM

    Comment #3

    Repost from earlier:

    Online Guy…I have been told you have been fighting the good fight lately! Well done lad
    ?

    And a Happy NY to you too mate!

    1
  • jazzyp

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:49 PM

    Comment #4

    A massive result for us today and should be proud of the boys and for that matter the Toon army.
    The game by all accounts could have been put to bed for half time and a fully deserved win…But still we get the sheep hearder drowning in his sorrows .
    I wonder why oh why this bloke actually supports Nufc as its just criticism after criticism

    5
  • RonVanDam

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:50 PM

    Comment #5

    Now is the best time to finalise the takeover. Give Rafa a kitty of 60m to buy and reimburse when the deal is complete.

    3
  • jesperfuglsang - capt'n awesome of the lemon crew

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:50 PM

    Comment #6

    Martoon…so you’re reckon OG was not addressing the blog “idiots” and “WUMs”?

    I guess that’s one of the issues on here…it’s perceived “we” all know who the blog idiots and WUMs are but the truth is we actually disagree whole heartedly on this issue (and that creates tension and issues I think…)

    Just my honest opinion, but I’ll probably hear for it later anyway

    1
  • Shot Bru

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:52 PM

    Comment #7

    I think the Stoke fans might be a bit delusional. Who do they think can come in and do a better job than Hughes!
    Hughes is about the right stature of coach for that club…
    our away fans are just awesome again by the sounds of it.
    Backing Rafa to the hilt, must be a tough pill to swallow for the pundits out there to see the support and togetherness.

    16
  • Online Guy

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:55 PM

    Comment #8

    Thanks Jesper.

    Blogs a good un’ !

    2
  • Online Guy

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:56 PM

    Comment #9

    Martoon.

    Left a comment for you on a page 2 pages back I think .

    Good luck.

    0
  • Online Guy

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:57 PM

    Comment #10

    Who’s available for the Stoke Job if Starkey gets his cards ?

    1
  • Online Guy

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:57 PM

    Comment #11

    Sparkey….

    1
  • Belfast

    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:59 PM

    Comment #12

    I voted for Diame. I thought he was immense today. He won absolutely everything. I think he’s played well in the last few games to be honest. It’s probably the first time he’s had a run of games in his proper position. Darlow was brilliant though and definitely won us the points in those last 15 minutes.

    10
  • Belfast

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:01 PM

    Comment #13

    Phil the power Taylor online guy.

    2
  • jazzyp

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:01 PM

    Comment #14

    The Swansea game will be a massive game now, Especially with Man city Burnley then manure all lined up for our next three games

    1
  • jazzyp

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:02 PM

    Comment #15

    I hope he goes out with a 17th world championship crown to end his career in style

    0
  • Belfast

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:02 PM

    Comment #16

    I would be eternally grateful if you could get Manxpie put in the sin bin for a few weeks. Cheers.

    3
  • ShirebrookToon

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:02 PM

    Comment #17

    Cracking result. Thoroughly deserved aswell. The team clicked today. Atsu and Perez were a headache for stokes defenders.

    Diame was a beast and that allowed Shelvey to do what he does best. Bossed it today!!

    Great start to 2018

    HWTL!!

    8
  • Belfast

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:04 PM

    Comment #18

    Aye me too mate. It would be a bit of a downer for him if he lost lol

    0
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:04 PM

    Comment #19

    How many yellow cards did stoke get, sounded to me that they were getting them on a very regular basis.

    1
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:06 PM

    Comment #20

    And congratulations to Diame, please do keep proving me wrong.

    4
  • c-dog

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:07 PM

    Comment #21

    Big Mo turning into a cult hero. Long may his industrious performances continue.

    In Rafa we trust…

    2
  • JamesToon

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:08 PM

    Comment #22

    People who attend home games and boo or moan and groan when we go a goal down etc. need to take a hard long look at themselves. I genuinely think now the home performances can suffer as a result of the crowd getting on their backs. people who say they have the right to boo etc because they pay their tickets, YOU ARE SUPPORTERS NOT CUSTOMERS. We have a young team, who work their socks off for us, support them and don’t boo them. The crowd when brighton came up were pathetic, it just doesn’t help at all. By all means boo a player that doesn’t care and talks about wanting to play for arsenal every week (cough sissoko cough) but don’t boo someone who clearly doesn’t have the ability as players around him on the pitch, but is still clear he is trying his best (diame/perez). These players are only human, the crowd moaning and groaning will impact them and it will make them scared to take risks.

    We can make st james’ a fortress, but only if we support the players through both the good and bad times. Anyone notice the second half at stoke today? Booing off shaqiri, players passing backwards, they got on their players’ backs and i definitely think it was a factor in us getting a result, it played into our hands and our players grew more confident, my god were the away fans terrific. I wish all of our home crowd were like our away fans.

    46
  • Jail for Ashley

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:13 PM

    Comment #23

    Not read NUFC.com yet but that was one of the best away days I’ve been to in a long time. 3.2K singing their hearts out. You don’t get better than that.

    20
  • lochinvar

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:13 PM

    Comment #24

    Ed: Newcastle fans are upbeat to say the least and we have to agree with one Newcastle fan – Scott Walker – who says

    “What a bloody emotional rollercoaster it is supporting this club.”

    Well have a couple of beers before the game mate and ” Make it easy on yourself”

    7
  • bladeuser

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:14 PM

    Comment #25

    Hard fought but deserved win
    ASH OUT RAFA OUT

    0
  • toon kk

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:19 PM

    Comment #26

    Great win and a massive 3 points for us today. I said we’d preform better today without the home pressure. We needed to play a team like stoke to give us some confidence.

    1
  • Jib

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:19 PM

    Comment #27

    Loch

    I’ll play

    Sometimes supporting the Toon

    you feel

    The sun ain’t gonna shine any more

    4
  • jimmysmith

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:21 PM

    Comment #28

    Well done lads. Good festive period. Gives us all renewed hope. Particularly happy for Murphy, who I believe in, and Ayoze Perez. Always vote for Perez as MotM, as my little show of solidarity for a very good young player who has been working so hard and so thanklessly this season and last for his Newcastle career. HWTL and good job Rafa. Now sell up Ashley. To a man we want you to go.

    13
  • Jail for Ashley

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:22 PM

    Comment #29

    Jæsper,
    I hope you don’t disappear in a huff for a year when I ask you if you listened to the game on NUFC.co.uk today?

    5
  • Lindisfarne

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:23 PM

    Comment #30

    Jail for Ashley

    How many Stellas are you on now?

    0
  • Jib

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:24 PM

    Comment #31

    After years of supporting the Toon

    I have

    No Regrets

    6
  • toon22

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:32 PM

    Comment #32

    Dont think Rafa will spend big regardless this transfer window.
    Might get a striker on load and maybe a midfielder.
    He will probs buy a goalkeeper though.
    Imho Rafa will want to keep the powder dry till summer when more people are available and take advantage of loads of players who want a game before the world cup this summer

    2
  • Jail for Ashley

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:36 PM

    Comment #33

    Jimmy,
    Renewed hope?, it’s bloody huge, they are absolutely shite and will unfortunately sack Hughes in this next week. Unfortunately for them they cant hire the man that people might think can save them. With Swansea hiring a sacked Champo manager, WBA hiring Alan Bloody Pardew, CP hiring the oldest manager ever in the PL and Everton capturing the most expensive dinosaur does anyone actually think we can replace Rafa with Tuchel or Ancellotti. OR is everyone confident that Rafa is the best thing that has happened to the club in a long long time?

    8
  • Jail for Ashley

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:37 PM

    Comment #34

    Lindi,
    About 16

    4
  • toon kk

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:37 PM

    Comment #35

    James toon @22
    I agree with what you say apart from one thing, our team doesn’t always work their socks off, lack of effort is obvious on occasions. We’ll done to the team today though.

    0
  • Jail for Ashley

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:39 PM

    Comment #36

    Lindi,
    Just past Scotch Corner

    0
  • Pitmatic

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:39 PM

    Comment #37

    Jib

    Hopefully we’ll soon be celebrating

    The Day The “Conducator” Died (an Xmas song!)

    1
  • jesperfuglsang - capt'n awesome of the lemon crew

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:43 PM

    Comment #38

    Jail…went you cut the xenophobic language and address me properly we can talk…until then you can f… off! 🙂

    1
  • Jail for Ashley

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:44 PM

    Comment #39

    All it takes is for j?sper and on line guy to report me for trouble making and bullery and I’m out of here. Even Rafa bingo can’t save me it was Markaccus idea: o

    8
  • Jib

    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:44 PM

    Comment #40

    Jesper
    Do you kiss your children with that
    filthy mouth of yours

    I’m going to report you to the Online guy

    12
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