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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

  • lesh

    Feb 9, 2018 at 8:31 PM

    Comment #41

    sing in the corner @29

    Like you, I despair at those, small section, of fans who seem to need a player to single out and scapegoat.

    It’s Josalu at the moment and before him there’s been Colbeck, Summer, Cool, Thauvin, Shola, Sammy and others before them.

    At a higher level, we’ve got the ubercritics who seem to be obsessed with finding fault with Rafa.

    Something Rafa always stresses is that that everybody on the playing and coaching teams operate and see themselves as a team.

    Yes, there are some who play better than others, have greater skills but, but they all work their chuckies off for Newcastle United.

    Scapegoating’s easy when there are problems in all walks of life. In history, scapegoats have been held resoonsible for most ills – whether the Jews in the thirties and forties, blacks, European immigrants etc etc. It’s always been the way and it’s not action of those who can think beyond the obvious.

  • Bigjim67

    Feb 9, 2018 at 9:55 PM

    Comment #42

    Whats happened to the blog??? Never seen it this quiet. I was hoping to see Slimani in the starting line-up on Sunday, we may have had a small chance of winning but I suppose we still might. You never know. Hwtl

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 9, 2018 at 9:57 PM

    Comment #43

    Wow is everyone at the Harrison wedding? Where’s my invitation?

    Seriously though lots of regulars not been on today. Have a bunch of people been blocked?

  • tommotoon

    Feb 9, 2018 at 10:12 PM

    Comment #44

    think everyone is waiting for the next transfer window !

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 9, 2018 at 10:17 PM

    Comment #45

    Some big games in the bottom half of the Prem tomorrow. Need Stoke to draw with Brighton, Burnley to beat the Swans and Watford to beat West Ham. Means a big step towards safety for Burnley and Watford but keeps the bottom of the table compressed

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 9, 2018 at 10:18 PM

    Comment #46

    Yeah, tommo – could hardly be less frustrating than the last one

  • tommotoon

    Feb 9, 2018 at 10:23 PM

    Comment #47

    Really fancy Stoke to go down with WBA i predicted Stoke and Swansea at the start of the season but i think Swansea might have enough to pull out of it Huddersfield to join Stoke and one other mmmmmmmmmmm ?

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 9, 2018 at 10:35 PM

    Comment #48

    Contributors who post regularly but I haven’t seen all day
    Online Guy
    Geordie 2
    Catchy from Norway

    Now there’s a line-up for Man U. Could see Dyer vs Bowyer happening all over again

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 9, 2018 at 10:39 PM

    Comment #49

    tommo, you could be right. Not sure West Brom can close the gap, Hudds are in freefall and Crouchy can’t save Stoke on his own. I also think Swansea could pull clear, likewise Palace, which leaves us, West Ham, Saints and Brighton to make sure we don’t get dragged in

  • tommotoon

    Feb 9, 2018 at 10:40 PM

    Comment #50

    Be more like a game of rugby

  • stan anderson

    Feb 9, 2018 at 10:45 PM

    Comment #51

    We have,nt gone and bought another dud have we?
    Surely we need players now fit enough to hopefully play in our last 10 games or so.
    Ashley OOT

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 9, 2018 at 10:49 PM

    Comment #52

    Yup, we’ll have Munster coaching and frank pingles with the magic sponge. Young Mag from Burnley can be the mascot. carl can drive the team bus. None of these have been on today either, as far as I know. Very wierd

  • tommotoon

    Feb 9, 2018 at 10:50 PM

    Comment #53

    stan anderson
    he is not a dud mate its all down to Ashley again waiting till deadline day to do something we new the lad had a thigh strain but what else can you do with that fat oaf as owner

  • stan anderson

    Feb 9, 2018 at 11:11 PM

    Comment #54

    Thats right Tommotoon i know
    Ashley OOT

  • magic hat

    Feb 9, 2018 at 11:40 PM

    Comment #55

    If it’s a close game either drawing or one goal in it bringing slim on could be the lift needed on 70mins for us to nick a goal. I hope he makes an appearance even if it’s from the bench. Can’t see Gayle getting a game if it’s not slim it’ll be Jose luis

  • magic hat

    Feb 9, 2018 at 11:47 PM

    Comment #56

    If we go 3cb then yedlin is perfect for that rwb It’s the left I worry about as dummet is more of a defender. Put ken in there on the left and you lose most his attacking threat. I hope he goes flat four then floods midfield. So no 10 or second striker just fluid 5 midfield of diame shelvey merino Kennedy and would hope it’d Murphy getting a run on the right. But could be atsu or Ritchie. As for between the sticks it can’t be worse to put the new international and champions league keeper in. We know both Elliot and Darlow are ok, but we should get the new lad in the net and see what he can do.

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 9, 2018 at 11:52 PM

    Comment #57

    magic hat, I like your suggestions – well thought through. I would like to see a back three of Lasclles, Lejeune and Dummett with Kenedy and Yeldin as wing backs, Diame as DM, Shelvey and Merino slightly advanced and Perez supporting Slimani. However, I think Joselu will start and Slimani come on some time after the hour mark to stretch their defence. Similar personnel to you, slightly different shape. It shows the flexibility Rafa is building into the squad, even with his limited budget

  • magic hat

    Feb 9, 2018 at 11:55 PM

    Comment #58

    He’s Slimani yes the real Slimani
    Now he’s joined the toon army
    So for the real Slimani, please stand up,
    Please stand up,
    Please stand up
    ‘Cause he’s Slimani…
    Please stand up,
    Please stand up

  • magic hat

    Feb 10, 2018 at 12:00 AM

    Comment #59

    Robl i think dummet is perfect for the left side of a back three got all the attributes of a central defender or defensive full back. Kennedy has played full back wing back and winger. So he should be able to do it well enough like I say though he’d lose a bit of his threat. He’d be well covered to go forward by dummet though in your system.

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 10, 2018 at 12:10 AM

    Comment #60

    Yeah, Dummett has always taken flack for his attacking play, he’s not got great acceleration so looks slow over the first 10 yards but he’s quick once he gets going – joint 4th fastest in the PL in 2016, according to TalkSport, faster than Kyle Walker. More suited to CB in the long term, I think that’s where he’ll end up but he’s not tall enough to play in a centre back pair so left side of a three suits him. Only concern would be Lukaku (this weekend or any other dominant striker otherwise) pulling to his side for headers, but Rafa can get Lascelles to cover that, I’m sure.

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 10, 2018 at 3:07 AM

    Comment #61

    RIP Liam Miller – something upset your career which could have been great. 36 is no age

  • chicousa

    Feb 10, 2018 at 5:38 AM

    Comment #62

    Graveyard blog shift punching in…

    Sooner or later the Toon are going to play one of “THOSE” matches! When luck turns in their favor and instead of hitting the post the ball slips glances of the inside of the post and settles snuggly into the net! When a ref actually sees an opponent throw an elbow and pulls out a red card against them instead of us! When the Mags score multiple goals to go up 2-0 or 3-0 in the first half and then see the match out brilliantly!! When they shock one of the so called elite teams!!! Sunday may be THAT match of the season for NUFC! I’m feeling that vibe mates!!!!!

  • chicousa

    Feb 10, 2018 at 5:40 AM

    Comment #63

    …of course I’ve had a few pints!!! 😀

  • firebug666

    Feb 10, 2018 at 5:55 AM

    Comment #64

    Slimani is hoping he can do enough at Newcastle to earn a permanent move here. Seems a lot of players once they get here want to stay, Kenedy said a similar thing shortly after arriving from Chelski. All this positive talk from players can only be good for the club and help attract other players to the North.

  • chicousa

    Feb 10, 2018 at 6:00 AM

    Comment #65

    I hope all three of our loaned players excel and play with passion for the Toon! Newcastle is outstanding in every way….except one.

    Ashley out! PCP in!! Rafa stays!!!

  • firebug666

    Feb 10, 2018 at 6:08 AM

    Comment #66

    We were soundly beaten 4-1 at Old Trafford, so I expect tomorrow to be a grueling day. I hope a little luck, and the new players give us a lift and if we go ahead early I think the pressure will shift to Man U. Jose has never won a game at SJP and going behind early may be all it takes for him to make a few tactical errors for the rest of the game.

    I know I’m clutching at straws here, but even as tough as this game will be I think we can win it with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work…………….and Slimani up front!

  • chicousa

    Feb 10, 2018 at 6:17 AM

    Comment #67

    Right there with you….clutching those straws. Slimani to bag a brace. Kenedy to get his first for NUFC. Ritchie to score his first of the season too! Howay!!!

  • Jib

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:35 AM

    Comment #68

    chico and firebug
    showing each other fotos of their kids
    not much else to do

  • Bigjim67

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:36 AM

    Comment #69

    firebug, chicousa. You’ve very nearly convinced me there! Can you have a word with Rafa, get the two of you in for a pre match pep talk!!!!

  • Jib

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:37 AM

    Comment #70

    It always tends to be a
    quieter start to the weekend
    when it’s a Sunday game

    Never mind
    it leaves the way clear to watch England
    pummel Wales at Twickers

  • Jib

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:39 AM

    Comment #71

    Bigjim the famous 5 – 0
    20 Oct 1996
    that was a Sunday too !!!!!

  • firebug666

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:43 AM

    Comment #72


    If we get in their faces and don’t allow them to get their game going we have a chance, if we park the bus we are probably doomed, Rafa will do what he thinks is best, but Man U are not unbeatable and this just could be our turn to gets some points off them.

  • sing in the corner

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:46 AM

    Comment #73

    Thankfully we can count on Rafa and his staff to assess the risk with Slimani’s recent injury properly. Many teams would probably chuck him in. We are all desperate for a saviour, but if he is not fit enough to play he won’t. Anyone can get injured at any time, of course, it’s always a risk. We aren’t in the last chance saloon just yet, so if the percentages are coolly calculated and Slimani isn’t ready to feature yet, so be it.
    Then he comes in the following week or whenever, fully fit, instead of playing now, pulling the thigh and missing the majority of the games left.
    This is all about holding the nerve and sticking together.
    In my opinion West Brom, Huddersfield and Stoke will be the ones in the bottom 3 at the end.

  • Bigjim67

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:46 AM

    Comment #74

    Jib. I couldn’t get a ticket for the match so watched it in the Jubilee club in Walker then went on the hoy on Shields Rd. I’m working tomorrow, couldn’t get a shift swap. Yeah happy memories, would love a repeat!

  • Bigjim67

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:49 AM

    Comment #75

    firebug. Always a chance IF we get into them early on as you say, heres hoping.

  • Bigjim67

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:50 AM

    Comment #76

    Duty calls guys, have a good day.

  • Jib

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:51 AM

    Comment #77

    I watched it Front Street , Tynemouth
    I shared an ST with a cousin and it was
    his turn.

  • Jib

    Feb 10, 2018 at 7:55 AM

    Comment #78

    They should have invited
    Peacock Ginola Ferdinand Shearer and Albert
    as special guests tomorrow

  • dig-n-dig22

    Feb 10, 2018 at 8:03 AM

    Comment #79

    Firebug #64
    If Kenedy keeps playing well and Slimani gets the goals that keeps us in the Prem then they will both go for decent money. They are in the shop window but Ashley won’t be buying.It could be a different story if we have new owners,lets hope so.


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