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Rafa Benitez Press Conference – Slimani Still Not Fully Fit

Rafa has just given his press conference this afternoon for the tough game at home to Manchester United on Sunday, and the main item is that it seems Slimani is still not fully fit.

Slimani will have a fitness test tomorrow to see if he can play on Sunday.

Ciaran Clark has returned to training following his knee injury picked up last weekend.

Rafa Benitez

This is some of what Rafa has said about the team and the game on Sunday afternoon against the Red Devils:

“You can’t complain about the work-rate. We have to improve on the finishing

“We were doing well and scored first. But you can’t make mistakes. It is obvious and everybody knows that. We have the same problem of teams at the bottom have.”

“You can lose four or five games in a row. One bad result changes everything.”

“I was watching the TV and they were analyzing tactics of Huddersfield and Burnley playing defensively. The tactics depend on the team and we will try our best.”

“When you have to defend you do it, and after you attack.”

“Gamez is getting better but still we have to wait. Diame is training. Clark is training after his knee problem.”

“Slimani has been part of the training session so we will see. We have to see if he is feeling tomorrow to see if he can start. Joselu fine too.”

“Man United were very good better and they are a little better now with Alexis Sanchez. They have a lot of money and are a very good team.”

“We know where we are and we have to compete with the tools we have.”

Each manager has his own tactics and his own team depending on the opponents. We are not a defensive team, we are a team that has to defend.”

“We will try to do our best to win against Man United.”

Only about one in four fans think we can win this game on Sunday.

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Comments welcome.

79 comments so far

  • Ron Knee

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:02 PM

    Comment #1

    “We are not a defensive team, we are a team that has to defend.”

    Well put!

  • hibbit

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:07 PM

    Comment #2

    absolutely sums our situation up,
    ***** We are not a defensive team, we are a team that has to defend*****
    five star comment from Rafa !!

  • Jib

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:10 PM

    Comment #3

    I think Slimani will be fine
    His comments are for Mourinho’s

  • Geordie-john

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:10 PM

    Comment #4

    It’s about time that we turned this bloody corner. To all players, The main part of the game is to get the ball into the bit between the posts and not over it either. Haway Man it’s not rocket science , If you have a chance and you are a footballer score a goal !

  • Lee Charnley Bunga Party

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:11 PM

    Comment #5

    A 352 would probably work for us against Man Utd we have tried it a few times but never had the balance as Dummett , Manquillo or Mbemba are not able to do the role as a left wing back !Kennedy can though and it would also allow us to have Diame , Shelvey and either Merino or Hayden in the middle!

    Not sure who would be up front though possibly Perez and Joselu unfortunately…….

  • JP...from The Rock

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:15 PM

    Comment #6

    So Slimami still not 100% ey! Fking brilliant. Hopefully he can play well for at least an hour.

    We really need him to hit the ground running quickly as each game passes it’s another proper chance lost to gain precious points.

    We can’t rely on Josewho and a misfiring Gayle and Perez any longer.

  • Jib

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:16 PM

    Comment #7
  • RobLeenio

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:17 PM

    Comment #8

    I wonder if Rafa’s trying to manage expectations with Slimani – it’s possible he wants to use him from the bench vs Man U as the game becomes stretched and doesn’t want the crowd to be disappointed when the starting 11 is released in case that transmits negativity to the team. I think he still sees a role for Joselu this season.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:27 PM

    Comment #9


    7 It’s the home of Greggs
    8 He’s a closet Geordie (Yeah I know that’s streching it a bit)
    9 He’s a closet Makem (Not such a stretch)

  • Munster Mag

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:29 PM

    Comment #10

    Jib I don’t agree fella. Rafa is pretty straight so I don’t think we will see my French Algerian assassin. 0-2 🙁

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:29 PM

    Comment #11

    I’ll go along with the teasing Jose scenario, otherwise he’s not going to be much use to us if he spends most of the time here on the treatment.

  • Hail Wor Ashley

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:38 PM

    Comment #12

    Slimani won’t start then, unless we’re throwing a bluff which I doubt. Ah well, slim chance of a result just dropped significantly unless he makes a surprise appearance in the XI.

  • Lindisfarne

    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:43 PM

    Comment #13

    “Football is a big lie”!

  • toon kk

    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:02 PM

    Comment #14

    Slimani will have to be fully fit and on top form to nock Joselu out of the team.
    Rafa really rates Joselu.

  • Ruddy Marveaux-lous

    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:31 PM

    Comment #15

    I don’t think it’s so much that he rates Joselu (he was his 5th choice ST transfer target after all) I think it’s more that he didn’t rate Mitro and that Gayle isn’t useful for the tactics we employ 90% of the time.

  • JackBall

    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:34 PM

    Comment #16

    I agree with Ruddy. He does rate hime, but only as compared to his other options. He has now said it at least twice that he thought the overall shape of the team and how that will lead to a better chance of success was better with Joselu than with Mitro.

  • Jib

    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:37 PM

    Comment #18

    Ruddy you are excused

    We know actually watching a game only
    gets in the way of your real motives.


  • toon kk

    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:42 PM

    Comment #19

    Why was Joselu on Rafa’s list in the first place, a rejected from a relegation rival.
    Strange one!

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:49 PM

    Comment #20

    toon kk because he offers something that neither Gayle or Mitro did – a disciplined physical presence to mix it with Premier League defenders. He bought him because his preferred options fell through and while his skill set is limited, he’s been doing the job Rafa has asked him to ever since, despite a total lack of respect from the majority of the fans. I#m not his biggest fan, but he’s a Newcastle player and as such you will not see me slagging him off while he’s doing his best and giving his all.

  • Jib

    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:55 PM

    Comment #21

    Well said RobLeenio
    (applause emoji)

  • toon kk

    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:02 PM

    Comment #22

    He’s shyte ffs.

  • Jib

    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:12 PM

    Comment #23

    toon kk
    You exaggerate
    Joselu is not the best
    If you want to see shite
    go watch the Mackems.

  • toon kk

    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:18 PM

    Comment #25

    Pleased you rate him.
    I have bigger ambitions for our club.
    Just because he plays for Newcastle doesn’t make him a good player.

    Go support Sunderland yourself.

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:25 PM

    Comment #26

    toon kk, easy there fella. No-one said he’s the type of player we aspire to have at the club, but given that he’s here and is trying to do a job week in week out, we should support him, until he stops trying. Getting on his back isn’t going to help him or improve his play is it? Not sure Jib was telling you to support the Mackems, just saying Joselu isn’t as rubbish as they are.

  • Jib

    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:26 PM

    Comment #27

    toon kk
    I didn’t say he’s good
    in fact I said
    “he’s not the best ”

    However he is a long way from being shite

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:28 PM

    Comment #28

    I was told last week that Slimani could be out for up to a month.

    which would mean the Bournemouth game in a fortnights time

    I see fans are picking the new lad Dubravka then if he is picked I would pick Lejuene and even Mbemba as, as it is to believed he like to pass out from the back then I think we will struggle as Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark and Dummett are not comfortable on the ball

    ie a mistook waiting to happen

    Me I would stick with the same back five

  • sing in the corner

    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:59 PM

    Comment #29

    Spot on!
    It saddens me to see and hear our own fans constantly singling out a player who obviously cares, tries his heart out and is desperate to score. Every negative opinion has been done now, no need for eager repetition..
    Get behind the lads who run out onto the pitch as long as they give it their all. If and when they are replaced, ‘thanks very much’ and then we move on.

  • Lindisfarne

    Feb 9, 2018 at 5:51 PM

    Comment #31

    Wow, must be a long press conference……5.02 – 5.52

  • beefman13

    Feb 9, 2018 at 5:54 PM

    Comment #32

    Hold on, when your playmaker midfielder passes the ball straight back to their keeper at the start of a game ( first time in my life I have seen this) then virtually line up on the 18 yard box to defend, that for me is being the ultimate defensive manouvre, City or no City I did not ever think we would surrender like that at SJP.

  • DaveD1000

    Feb 9, 2018 at 6:11 PM

    Comment #33

    Beef that is just to give keeper first touch and some confidence happens all the time

  • ShirebrookToon

    Feb 9, 2018 at 6:38 PM

    Comment #34


    Congratulations on the scan result. That’s fantastic news. Congrats to Neil and RuthAnn too. Hope you have a wonderful day my friend. A win on Sunday would be the cherry on the icing on the cake.

    They do say it comes in 3’s!

  • Chancel be a fine thing

    Feb 9, 2018 at 6:38 PM

    Comment #35

    Yes Beef, and he also aims his shots wide of the goal; what’s the point in that? Why doesn’t he hit the shots on target or even better in the top corner.

  • Dagwoodz

    Feb 9, 2018 at 6:47 PM

    Comment #36

    Great news on the health front Ed!

    On the game, I’m expecting it to be ultra defensive, but hopefully we can nick a point or three in the end. On ESPN, the poll has more people believing Liecster will beat City than us beating Manure…lol

  • Jib

    Feb 9, 2018 at 7:03 PM

    Comment #37

    Very quiet today
    must be a lot of winter sports fans support the toon

  • Jib

    Feb 9, 2018 at 8:24 PM

    Comment #38

    Wow !!!!!!!

  • beermonkey

    Feb 9, 2018 at 8:28 PM

    Comment #39


    u broke the blog

  • Aces-of-Eights

    Feb 9, 2018 at 8:30 PM

    Comment #40

    Newcastle is cold jib


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