Rafa has done a good job this season of teaching his players what it takes to win games in the Premier League.
And he has pointed out to them it’s the little things that mean a lot in the Premier League.
After that disastrous nine-game streak before Christmas when we picked up just a single point the lads have done brilliantly to get us safe on 41 points.
That’s was three games ago but since then they seem to have forgotten what Rafa drummed into them and have seemed to have gone backwards.
It will be a big challenge for Rafa to get them playing solidly again in our final two games at Tottenham and at home to Chelsea in the coming week.
A hot Rafa Benitez on the touchline yesterday
If we don’t improve we could lose both those games and it would be five successive defeats to end the season.
We cannot have that.
Here’s what Rafa said when asked if it was the motivation of his players that was missing:
“It’s not a question of motivation.”
“We achieved something that was really important and difficult: to stay up with five games to go was a great achievement.”
“The team has been working so hard that sometimes it is difficult to keep this level. We tend to change players, we tend to change things if we can.”
“But we play against teams with quality too and if you don’t make the right decisions a couple of times, then you can fall behind.”
“These mistakes, and the experience that the other teams have, you pay for that.”
“With this in mind, the team is working hard, running, but we are going late into some situations, and we are making mistakes.”
“Because maybe we do not have this concentration, this responsibility and the necessity to get points.”
“So we can just think: ‘If we go now, we can see what happens.’ It doesn’t matter too much if we lose a game.”
“But now we must realize we have lost three in a row and we have to react.”
“The teams in the Premier League are quite good and, if you make mistakes, you will pay for that.”
We think it’s important to try to get 10th place or even higher and don’t subscribe to the notion that it doesn’t really matter.
Rafa knows that a team more professional than we are at the moment would continue winning their games and playing with intensity, but our players have become sloppy.
Yes – it’s human nature to relax after reaching a huge target for the season – but it’s not being professional.
What do you think?