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Benitez Explains His Tactics And Why He Was Right About Them

There’s nothing pundits would like better than Newcastle going head to head with Chelsea’s strength and try to attack them at home.

Other teams have done that over the years and have been taken apart by the Blues.

Rafa didn’t want to do that – for one reason goal difference may be important at the end of the season.

The boss wanted to keep the game close so that near the end of the game anything could happen.

Rafa explained that when we went behind yesterday due to a very soft penalty – Newcastle attacked and it was only then that Chelsea had clear-cut chances when they counter-attacked,

Oh no – a DeAndre Yedlin own goal with just 3 minutes to go

And with the expensive players they have in their side they do that extremely well.

Their goalkeeper alone was more expensive than our whole team put together.

Rafa explained his tactics to Sky Sports after the game:

“We wanted to stay in the game and try to take our chances. We were very close but the penalty was soft, the foul was soft.”

“Maybe they could have scored at the end with the quality they have on the counter-attack but, no, these two situations.”

“It’s a pity because we were very close.”

“We knew playing open against them, with their quality and ability, they can beat players in one-versus-one situations.”

“Between the lines, they are very dangerous.”

“We needed to be compact, maybe we could frustrate them into mistakes and we’d have chances.”

“The penalty changed everything and we had to be more open.”

“We scored a goal but we were so open they had two or three counter-attacks.”

“If they scored from one of these chances, fine, but they had a soft foul and a second ball from a free-kick where we needed to be more aware.”

That makes sense to us, and we’ll see that again next Saturday at Manchester City and hopefully, in that game, we could have a little bit of luck on our side.

If we had come out and attacked Chelsea like we did after we conceded the first goal yesterday, we could have lost by a lot more than just one goal.

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Comments welcome.

95 comments so far

  • catchy in norway

    Aug 27, 2018 at 10:34 AM

    Comment #1

    catchy in norway

    Aug 27, 2018 at 10:33 AM

    Comment #23

    once again though, i hit you with facts, and you come with personal insults,, is that not cowardly?

  • catchy in norway

    Aug 27, 2018 at 10:38 AM

    Comment #2

    SHHHH Rafa your making it worse for yourself..

    you didnt start playing until that soft pen.

    against Cardiff we didnt start playing until the 75 ish minute

    most week we dont start playing until you make your first sub.

    you allow most of the game to drift by waiting for a mistake or they score first.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Aug 27, 2018 at 10:39 AM

    Comment #3

    My point exactly. Where were you with all these facts that proves the manager isn’t a good coach when finishing tenth last year. You couldn’t face the blog. You disappeared until a shite friendly pre season.

  • jarra mick

    Aug 27, 2018 at 10:46 AM

    Comment #4

    If pardew had set us up like that, he’d have been slated. Rafa gets away with negative boring football because of his reputation.

  • ronaldo aarons

    Aug 27, 2018 at 10:47 AM

    Comment #5

    These pundits like Keys (I use the term pundit very loosely) happy to defend Ashley against rafa and the majority of the fans. Now they ‘slam’ our defensive game plan saying how it’s unfair on the fans or our fans want entertainment etc. You need to ask yourself why they suddenly care about our feelings?

  • catchy in norway

    Aug 27, 2018 at 10:50 AM

    Comment #6


    you cannot use the argument the players are crap but they finished 10, its the same group of players plus some this season.

    based of players we had, i said 12th last season, its on this blog. this season i thnk we are good enough for 8th.

    your saying its because of Rafa, im saying its in-spite of rafa.

    the stats tell us we are one bad pass away from conceding a goal, under rafa coaching us,, we play far to deep and allow the other team to have the ball,, these are not great qualities.

    and to make it worse, his choice in CF does not work with his style of play, i honestly think the man is confused in his head, he buys loads of wingers, but we hardly ever cross the ball, we buy big strong CF, but we get no one near him.
    he plays deep football with long balls regular, be needs pacey CFs with his style, or he needs to use the squad he built and push the team up much higher.

  • catchy in norway

    Aug 27, 2018 at 10:53 AM

    Comment #7


    i dont listen to any pundits, they all have very biased views, some fouls are clumbsy and some are wreckless, depending on the player involved, its never the actual tackle always the person

  • Jail for Ashley

    Aug 27, 2018 at 10:54 AM

    Comment #8

    jarra mick,
    That’s because Pardew was a tw@t.

  • Slank

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:02 AM

    Comment #9

    I’m not entirely convinced about Benitez reasoning.

    Rondon should have had a partner close by. He was very isolated and therefore very ineffective.

    On the BBC Gullit showed how Chelsea didn’t exploit the open spaces and were very predictable for much of the game in attacking through the middle where we had three centre backs.

    The argument about possession is ridiculous. Possession in itself does not guarantee a win. A better comparison is the number of shots on target.

  • hibbit

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:03 AM

    Comment #10

    correct me if i’m wrong but are you saying Rafa’s not good enough and has to go ???
    if i’m correct with that interpretation of what your saying who do you think would/could replace him ???

    if all your going to do is insult me with your reply don’t bother answering

  • Jail for Ashley

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:05 AM

    Comment #11

    Ashley will only ever provide what he thinks is necessary to survive. So if you think a new manager will come in and finish between tenth and seventeenth while playing sexy football you’re as deluded as your posts make you out to be.

  • AncientC

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:06 AM

    Comment #12

    I wonder what Nufc-83 was thinking when Mitrovic put his third goal of the season away. I distinctly remember him reassuring the blog that Mitrovic would be incapable of scoring against PL defences. lol.

  • Nicky the ball tosser

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:09 AM

    Comment #13

    This is the team Rafa would have picked if he could have at home v Chelsea.

    Yedlin Lascelles Clark Dummett
    Shelvey Diame
    Ritchie Perez Kenedy

    He’ll play
    Yedlin Lascelles Fernandez Clark Dummett
    Ritchie KiSy Diame Kenedy
    …..at the Etihad.

  • Slank

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:12 AM

    Comment #14


    I don’t think he was thinking.

    Mitrovich was a prolific scorer for Anderlect and still is for his national team.

    Some players have a natural instinct and ability to score. And it doesn’t matter which league or competition.

    Only at the end of this season will we know whether he can maintain his ability to score.

  • The overrated Frenchman

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:14 AM

    Comment #15

    Can Benitez ever take a loss on the chin(s) without complaining about the referee?

  • Ron Knee

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:15 AM

    Comment #16

    So Mitro’s one goal in front of Joselu.

  • lesh

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:18 AM

    Comment #17


    If the Forum’s cancelled due to Charnley’s unavailabilty, I wonder if it’s safe to assume he’s offered another date soon? No? Ah ok.

    Something telling me, though not sure at all, that the FA expects clubs to have meaningful dialogue with fans and if the August meeting has been cancelled, is it time for the Magpie Group to contact the FA and issue an another open letter to the club?

    Ashley’s on the run and he and his cohort are showing their true colours. They haven’t got the courage to defend their actions.

  • Lilongwe Geordie

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:18 AM

    Comment #18

    1 goal in front of NUFC….

  • jimiley

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:22 AM

    Comment #19

    Each time we have played so defensively at home we have lost. If you let good players continually play around your box they will score. Its that simple.
    Why play so cowardly against Chelsea and so aggressively against Spurs who finished above Chelsea????? We deserved at least a draw against Spurs and a good hammering against Chelsea. 3 months ago the same team played Chelsea off the park. They have bought a goalkeeper.
    Very weak excuses from Rafa.
    Playing so defensively takes away home advantage and feeds negatively into the players. Are we so shit that we have to play like that?. What must the new boys be thinking? Lascelles and the team surrendered against City last season and who can blame the captain for not wanting to play that way again. He has his pride.

  • jimiley

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:26 AM

    Comment #20

    A manager has to blame somebody. They never blame the players or themselves.
    In his own mind Rafa is upset that they did not win. If the referee had not done this or the player had not stuck his foot out to deflect and if Chelsea had missed etc etc we would have won one nil. Its easy really

  • jayphoto

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:27 AM

    Comment #21

    NBC pointed out the average cost per player for newcastle was 4m whereas the average per player for Chelsea was 37m…
    We were missing our 3 best players in Lascelles , Shelvey and Kenedy… also missing Lejeune and Hayden, both who would have started against Chelsea… and we were still within minutes of a point despite the fact that was never a penalty..
    Take the best 3 players out of any side, make that the best 3 players and both starting CBs and see how any side does against a full strength chelsea…

  • Ron Knee

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:28 AM

    Comment #22


    Joselu could be the surprise of the season!


    Pathetic Charnley.

  • catchy in norway

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:30 AM

    Comment #23


    no i know Rafa has the ability, but i think his style is more suited to a very top team, a team that has the very best players in all the positions.

    in a team like ours, 14th and down over, you dont have he luxury of waiting for a bit of magic from one of your brilliant players, i think you actually have to force the play a little bit more, and be a bit more creative.

    we have good players, I wish he would trust them more,

    and like i said, he has built a squad, but im not sure how we play, but from what i can figure out is, ritchie and kennedy are our outlets, but they start very deep, more often then not they will cut in, Yedlin is our only winger, but he starts at right back,
    Lascelles is a dummy, rightly pointed out by Rotondo a newer version of taylor, out of position a lot, cannot pass the ball, but can head it.

    the jewel in our team is Shelvey, but i would like him to play a little higher up the pitch.

    he sets us up to counter against everyone, regardless of division.

    in all honesty, rafas style along with Jose was yesterdays style, and teams are now moving to a more attacking style.

  • Lilongwe Geordie

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:30 AM

    Comment #24

    He already is by having scored twice!

  • jimiley

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:32 AM

    Comment #25

    You could argue that taking the best defender out of the Toon team argues against a defensive set up.
    Shelvey is hit and miss and would have been wasted against Chelsea. Can you see shelvey having a good game chasing after Hazard across his box for 90 per cent of the game?
    With Shelvey and Lascelles playing we would have played exactly the same.

  • Ron Knee

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:33 AM

    Comment #26


    Here’s to many more surprises!

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:37 AM

    Comment #27

    I didn’t actually mind the starting eleven and the set-up yesterday
    Will be the same against City and Arsenal at home which I can put up with but what bugs me if we set up the same way against Palace and Leicester the next rwp games in the sequence.
    Yes against the top teams stifle them but Rafa seems to set us up every game not to loose- one up front same substitutions like for like even if we are getting beat
    Shelvey I thought we did not miss him yesterday a yes Ki has not got his passing range but his closing down of opposition players running and occupying space in front of the defence is better than Shalvey who can be lazy and petulant at times

  • catchy in norway

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:40 AM

    Comment #28


    i never new cardiff were a top team

    i learned something there

  • jimiley

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:41 AM

    Comment #29

    Without Hazard Chelsea are nothing special. They were 5th last season. Take Hazard out the team and they would be on a par with Everton.
    To surrender to a good team (not a top team) is abysmal.
    Only Benitez could come to the Toon and play like that. He seems to be making a statement.
    I have got a really crap team and I have to play like that to survive relegation and I am the only person who can keep them up and its all Cashleys fault I have to play like that.
    Benitez will lose any feud with Ashley and the bad blood is getting to the team. He will go at the end of the season and its time to just get on with it.

  • jayphoto

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:44 AM

    Comment #30

    @Jimiley – we may have played the same but both would have been upgrades which means the result may have been different.. all in all we played against one of the best attacking sides in the league and they barely had any chances despite a squad many times stronger than ours. We actually had the better oppurtunities in the first half and there was a few occasions where if the left wing back for us was more attack minded we would have caused them massive issues with the extra man. (left back being the key position we wanted to strengthen and didnt coincidentally…)
    Got to play to win, and this was probably the best way to do that, this wasn’t the chelsea we beat last season after Conte basically gave up and half the team was playing to avoid injury to not miss the world cup, this was a chelsea that have motivation, and have added 100m+ in talent

  • Aces-of-Eights

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:45 AM

    Comment #31

    Jail theres a chance we could be relegated. Benitez moyes etc are all boring managers. Surely theres a young manager out there with good ideas who can get a team playing well nd fluidly. Main thing is to get rid of ashley. If getting relegated to league 1 means ashley leaves would you take it?

  • hibbit

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:47 AM

    Comment #32

    catchy in norway
    that’s a very fair answer but by implication that his style is out of date and not suited to a team of our quality it must surely mean you want/think he should be gone.
    so i ask you again who do you think we could/should replace him with ?????

  • jayphoto

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:47 AM

    Comment #33

    @Jimiley – Chelsea are definately not nothing without Hazard… Kante is the best Def Mid in the world, Jorginho was courted by all the top clubs, as was Willian who didn’t even start, their Keeper is the most expensive keeper EVER… there wasnt a single player in their line up that wouldn’t have walked into our 11 and been our best player… i mean christ cmon, a player that can barely get into their under 23’s in Kenedy is arguably our biggest attacking threat….

  • Aces-of-Eights

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:48 AM

    Comment #34

    I agree these defensive tactics has got us defeats only. Only thing it didnt affect is goal difference. Does rafa have that much fear of us going down he is thinking goal difference already?

  • jayphoto

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:51 AM

    Comment #35

    If Benitez goes we have a huge chance of 5 more years of Pardew… make no mistake, Lamberts comments on BEIN were measured, he knows theres a chance he’ll get an interview when Benitez goes.. Ashley won’t risk another Rafa, it was better for him when we all hated the manager, we targetted Pardew and protested at the ground… now we love the manager we don’t, we target ashley and protest at his shops… If/when Rafa leaves our manager shortlist will be Allardyce, and if by chance he outprices himself it’ll be Pardew, Lambert, Hughes,Pulis etc

  • Aces-of-Eights

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:52 AM

    Comment #36

    Under ashley we will never win cups or get Europe or spend sky money so what point of us being in premier lge. If relegation to league 1 make ashley leave then id take it cos a club like nufc can always bounce back. We are nothing like leeds forest or sheff weds we are much bigger in terms of fan base and potential. But if ashley sticks around when we are league 1 then im afraid this club is doomed

  • Aces-of-Eights

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:56 AM

    Comment #37

    I think we should look in italy for next mgr. Atalanta mgr seems to do well with youngsters. He is highly rated. Think sampdoria mgr is highly rated too. Or a young german with fresh ideas.

  • Ninjacent

    Aug 27, 2018 at 11:58 AM

    Comment #38

    Catchy, never hear from you when we win!

    From my perspective, the football was horrible to watch yesterday, but as we all know football is a results business and Rafa knows towards the end of the season the goal difference is so vital in terms of league position and the psychological effects it puts a club in. We massively over achieved last season, so to spend less then your rivals we will never finish above 10th without investment.

  • Ninjacent

    Aug 27, 2018 at 12:01 PM

    Comment #39

    In regards to a new manager, without resources they won’t be doing any better then we are doing now!

  • catchy in norway

    Aug 27, 2018 at 12:02 PM

    Comment #40


    No, he is there now,, i want him to evolve his game, because the game has moved on.

    right now if i said to you would you take Jose or Pochettino, i think most would go with pochettino because he has the fresh ideas, 6 years ago, it would have been Jose,

    5 years ago all the top coaches seemed to be defensive, but right now most teams are switching to a more attack minded coach.

    Rafa is young enough to adapt,

    again, i will stress, take the top 5 teams out of our league, play more defensive or cautious against them, but dont surrender.

    Rafa and many are crying about not having a CF, he played Joselu ahead of a 22 million pound striker. HE MESSED UP. personal feelings ahead of club. just so wrong


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