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Rafa Explains Why Newcastle Are Now Winning – Next Test Is West Ham

Rafa Benitez must have been a very pleased man tonight having seen all the hard work he has done on the training ground with his players starting to pay off.

We now have four wins and 13 points from the last six games and if we can keep that up for the last 10 games we will beat last season’s total of 44 points.

But we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves either because last season we lost four of the last five games.

But Rafa is adamant he will take one game at a time and do all he can to get the 3 points in every one of the final 10 games remaining for the season.

Sean Longstaff – scores his first goal in Premier League for Newcastle

This is what he said tonight in his press conference after the game:

“We have a message that is very clear: one game at a time. Why are we winning games now? Because everybody is doing what they have to do and everybody is focused just on the games.”

“And it’s what we have to do against West Ham.”

“I was not thinking too much about how many points we could be clear. Just carry on doing what we know we can do well.”

“We went to Spain and trained really well and we came back and are in the same situation. The players work hard and are keen to do the right things”

“They want to be solid as a team and be a threat.’

I said so many times when he (Longstaff was coming with us and training with us he was doing well.”

“He was lucky enough to make his debut sooner rather than later because of injuries but now he deserves to be in there.”

“A lot of positives we have a young, local lad playing well and scoring goals.”

“We know what we have to do and we try to do that. Atsu’s a very good player and he gives us different things. We know we have different things now with Almiron and that’s good for me.”

“We know he (Schar) is capable of doing that. On the ball, he is good, and now he is improving in defense and the understanding with the other players is getting better.”

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89 comments so far

  • Nicky the ball tosser

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:34 PM

    Comment #1

    Arctoa’s always worthy match report from the Guardian letters.

    “Not one for the neutrals, but an important win.

    One change was made from the side that battered Huddersfield over the weekend, with Javier Manquillo replacing DeAndre Yedlin at right wing-back. Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff kept Mo Diame and Ki Sungyeung on the bench, while there was no place in the match-day squad for Kenedy and Jonjo Shelvey.

    Newcastle started brightly, holding on to the ball and attacking a Burnley side who looked content to sit on the edge of the box and pack the central area with bodies. They barely completed a pass in the first ten minutes, nevermind venturing forward.

    Our own attacking impetus inevitably petered out as the first half wore on, with both teams taking turns to knock the ball around in midfield. It became more of a slow tactical battle than a free-flowing contest, which suited Burnley more than us.

    Enter Fabian Schaer, man of the match, who turned that on its head after 25 minutes. Receiving the ball from Manquillo with nothing much on, he hammered home a shot from almost 30 yards that clattered in off the post, leaving Tom Heaton stranded. He was involved at the other end moments later, doing well to block a dangerous shot from Chris Wood as Burnley looked to retaliate.

    Their resurgence was short-lived, however, and Longstaff doubled our lead ten minutes later – finishing from close range to lift the St. James’ rafters. While Longstaff will attract the plaudits, Ritchie did well to supply the cross that fell to him, chasing down what looked like a lost cause at the byline.

    Ritchie was then a little fortunate to avoid conceding a seen-them-given penalty on 40 minutes as he tangled with Johann Gudmundsson, and there was still time before the whistle for James Tarkowski to balloon a hideous close-range effort well into the stands as our back line frayed a little.

    The interval saw a switch for Burnley – Robbie Brady on for the anonymous Dwight McNeil – and they started the second half as they ended the first, keeping Newcastle honest if not actually threatening Martin Dubravka’s goal. Newcastle, for their part, exploited the spaces that Burnley were leaving and Miguel Almiron in particular broke through on a few occasions, only to lose composure when one-on-one with Heaton.

    Peter Crouch entered the fray with twenty minutes to go, looking to score against Newcastle for a fifth different club. Ashley Barnes, a player seemingly more interested in winning the physical battle than the ball, gave way. Crouch’s introduction saw Newcastle retreat back to their own box, with Salomon Rondon left isolated up front.

    Paul Dummett replaced a tiring Almiron ten minutes later, quickly followed by Diame for Longstaff and Joselu for Ayoze Perez – three changes that signalled our intent to close out the game at two-nil. Matej Vydra, on for Chris Wood, joined Crouch in trying to meet the steady hail of crosses coming their way as the final whistle approached.

    Luckily for us, the quality just wasn’t there from Burnley in the final third and despite seven minutes of added time, we just-about held firm for a victory that takes us up to 13th in the table – and, notably, seven points from danger with ten games to play.

    Sean Dyche may feel aggrieved over one or two decisions, but their own football this evening was of the decidedly robust variety and they never really looked like scoring, even when opportunities were presented to them. It’s hard to believe this was the same team that did for Tottenham just a few days ago.

    As for Newcastle, we’re off to West Ham next. A draw would be welcome.”

  • ronaldo aarons

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:36 PM

    Comment #2

    To those asking for catchy, he’s not on the blog at the moment, a fellow fan saw him back in the uk earlier.

    Calvo ????
    To the guy tonight in Level 7 corner shouting negative crap, you know who you are. Moaning why we weren’t smashing them, fcuk off. Don’t come back. In fact you probably should evaluate what goes through your mind when you watch a football match…. #nufc

  • ronaldo aarons

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:38 PM

    Comment #3

    I actually put Hayden as my man of the match too. And glad you thought lascelles did well, thought he was good and looked like the player of last season. Bossed it aerially and kept an inform woods quiet.

  • RobLeenio

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:38 PM

    Comment #4

    Cheers, Charlie, always appreciated, especially after a win

  • jane

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:39 PM

    Comment #5

    another good win for Sheffield Wednesday with Aarons and Lazaar playing again although Lazaar was subbed after 36 minutes, wonder why that was.


  • Mister Tuff

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:39 PM

    Comment #6

    Charlie – correct re Ritchie not passing to Almiron. Seems he preferred to go backwards. I noted that and a few others as well.

  • lochinvar

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:41 PM

    Comment #7

    Opta stats from Sky
    Sweet dreams

    No side has picked up more Premier League points at home in 2019 so far than Newcastle United’s 12 (P5 W4 D0 L1), with only Arsenal and Manchester City matching their tally on home soil.

    Newcastle have won four consecutive home league games for the first time since last April; they had won just two of their opening 11 home league games of this season prior to this streak (D1 L8).

    This was the first time Burnley have lost a Premier League game with Tom Heaton in goal since August 2017 against West Brom (0-1), ending a 10-game unbeaten streak for the goalkeeper in the competition.

    Newcastle have done a league double over Burnley for the first time since the 1954-55 top-flight campaign; they had won just two of their previous 11 league games against the Clarets before this season (D4 L5).

    Only Fulham (13) have lost more away games in all competitions amongst Premier League clubs this season than Burnley (11).

    Fabian Schär’s goal was Newcastle’s first to be scored from outside the box in this season’s Premier league from their 121st such attempt from outside the area in 2018-19, with Ayoze Perez the last player to score from outside the penalty area for the Magpies in the competition in April 2018 against Leicester City.

    Aged 21 years and 119 days, Sean Longstaff is the youngest player to score for Newcastle in the Premier League since Rolando Aarons netted aged 20 years and 181 days against Spurs in May 2016.

    Newcastle scored with both of their two shots on target in the first half of this match.

  • Nicky the ball tosser

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:43 PM

    Comment #8

    Yeah, I also thought Hayden was great tonight, and the hair stood up on the back of my neck and tingles ran up and down my spine for a full two minutes when Longstaff got his goal.

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:44 PM

    Comment #9

    Football 2 Hoofball 0
    Hell of a strike from star who is becoming a tremendous buy at £3 million.

    Played well first half only team that played football and it reaped its rewards – second half got sucked into their tactics of hoofball and last fifteen minutes was awful to watch

    Defence must of headed the ball more times than they kicked it tonight

    Thought Dubravka was back to his debut best came and caught every ball slung in.

    my merit marks
    Dubravka – 8 – Another clean sheet but he was immense in the air commanded the 18 yard box never mind the 6 yard box came collected every ball slung in and there was quite a lot
    Ritchie – 7 – Good game give it all but has got to start passing/using Almiron missed him out most of the night. Kept the players minds on the game last ten minutes by clapping and egging players on at the end along with Hayden
    LeJuene – 7 – one of his quite games – still put in a shift
    Lascalles – 8 – Excellent game won nearly every ball in the air – give as good as he got in the hurly burly high ball game
    Schar – 8.5 – hell of strike like a bullet – had a outstanding game on the right of centre defence – linked up well with Manquilla in defence and attack
    Manquilla – 8 – best game by a mile in a Toon shirt didn’t put a foot wrong
    Longstaffe – 8 – had another excellent game not bad int he air either and capped his performance with a well taken goal
    Hayden – 10 – One of the best performances from anyone in a Toon shirt for a while tackled, passed, headed and kept running for 95 minutes. The last ten minutes he was outstanding when others around him were flagging as Burnley tried to get something out of the game.
    Perez – 8 – hot and cold tonight did some good things won the ball but lost the ball quite a lot last twenty minutes.
    Rondon – 8 – Battled on manfully all night – will be black and blue with the buffeting he got from their defenders. Didn’t get mush from the ref when they were jumping all over his back
    Almiron – 8 – Decent game always on the move looking for the pass – but will take a while before our players are on the same wavelength with his movement – especially Ritchie.

    Subs- not on long enough – Dummett new haircut Arghhh and Diame looked like Mr Motivator with his bandage.
    Rafa – 8 – Thought it strange dropping Yedlin but proved right with counter acting their wingers height by playing Manquilla.

    Crowd 7 – up and down but the last five minutes – tremendous racket coming out of the Gallowgate End

    Ref – handled the game ok but let Burnley get away with a lot


  • ronaldo aarons

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:46 PM

    Comment #10

    Wow, just read Perez won the ball back 10 ten times. Highest out of our players. And some say he doesn’t tackle lol.

  • carltoon

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:50 PM

    Comment #11

    Posted 3 times and missed the bus Hayden my man of the match what a game

  • carltoon

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:53 PM

    Comment #12

    Dummet new hair style thinks he’s Aguaro it looked grey

  • carltoon

    Feb 26, 2019 at 11:59 PM

    Comment #13

    How much for Hayden now. Must be worth a few million. It’s a pity he’s off because he just seems to get better. Great partnership with Longstaff. What an ovation when he came off.

  • Novocastrian66

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:01 AM

    Comment #14

    I don’t like Burnley. They are physical side which I don’t have a problem with. What I dislike is, that when a team stands up to their physical approach they p1ss and moan. Dyche was a disgrace. He spouts on about how he likes the physical side of the game but when a team stands up against his sides approach he moans on.

  • Nicky the ball tosser

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:08 AM

    Comment #15

    I assume Rafa will sit down with Hayden and his partner and try to figure this out. We aren’t talking a massive distance from Newcastle to Southern Wales and the child is no longer a newborn. I doubt Hayden really does want to leave now, and I’m sure the club doesn’t want him to.

  • carltoon

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:17 AM

    Comment #16

    Hope he doesn’t leave I think he’s just coming into his own now. I thought he was outstanding tonight. By far the best player on the field.

  • Nicky the ball tosser

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:17 AM

    Comment #17

    On the form table since matchday 8 we are 8th.

  • Chancel My MBembaship

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:18 AM

    Comment #18

    Let’s have a whip around to pay for Hayden’s missus and bairn to come and live in Newcastle. He’s been an absolute revelation. It’s like watching a totally different team now.

    West Ham have some dangerous players but I think we can go there and get a result at the weekend. We’re flying, confidence is high, we have players in form and a system that works. It won’t be much longer before Almiron scores a worldie. That said, it’ll be tough to beat Schar for the Toon goal of the season.

  • beefman13

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:19 AM

    Comment #19

    Felt a bit frustrated for Almiron tonight, everything seemed a yard in front of him, he didn’t really get hold of the ball and have a good run at their defense, no complaints at all with the lad, he’s a winner.

  • carltoon

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:20 AM

    Comment #20

    Yes well done Raffa. He sees the big picture. Always a better second half of the season. What he could do with some backing.

  • simon376

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:22 AM

    Comment #21

    Charlie, just back from match and pub, got to say totally agree with your player ratings. I also think Hayden was just fantastic tonight, like a new player recently

  • ilovetoon8788

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:28 AM

    Comment #22

    Wasn’t impressed by almiron today. Poor game.

    Hayden was magnificent though.

  • ShirebrookToon

    Feb 27, 2019 at 12:46 AM

    Comment #23

    As soon as that ball left Schars foot I knew that was going in. Hats off to the Atlanta fans who came all the way over to see Miggy in action. That’s dedication for ya!

    Hayden MOTM by a country mile.

    Great win

    Onto the next game


  • Nostradamus the Geordie

    Feb 27, 2019 at 2:43 AM

    Comment #24

    Well it’s 7.40 pm and I waited all day to watch the match, god that’s tough I did open up the blog just out of habit and closed it quick like.

    I give Perez shite but he looked the part tonight, if this is how he will play every game then I will love it, I also give Jamaal shite now and again but I think that was his best run out this year.

    I can see us, if the damn owner will work with Rafa becoming a top seven side if he allows players that Rafa wants to come to the club.

    Anyone think Brenden will try and purchase Shelvey for Leicester in the summer?

  • The next Mike Williamson

    Feb 27, 2019 at 4:03 AM

    Comment #25

    We’ve gone from having 2 players capable of scoring more than 1 in a season (excluding centre backs), to having 4. I think having players who can win a game for you gives extra impetus to all the defensive players too. Before it must have felt like if we battled hard and kept a clean sheet we’d be fighting for a draw as you couldn’t see where a goal was coming from. I remember reading one of the Wales players saying they fight extra hard when Bale is in the team because they know he can win the game for them; he gives them belief they can beat anyone. Almiron seems to be having a similar effect on our players. He’s exactly what we’ve been crying out for the last three seasons. Longstaff seems to have the potential of getting 5-10 a season too. Shelvey and Ki are great players but they don’t offer goals. Long live Rafa!

  • Jail for Ashley

    Feb 27, 2019 at 6:02 AM

    Comment #26

    I thought Almiron worked his socks off, every pass finds s player and every time he loses it we gain a throw or a corner. His running gives the opposition a massive headache and he brings a confidence to the rest of the team, goals and assists will most definitely follow. Which once again proves beyond doubt that ilovetoon5678 and his assessments and predictions are the ramblings of a mackem WUM and given his knowledge of our players and situations just shows how obseesed with us that those down the toad actually are with us.

  • Paully

    Feb 27, 2019 at 6:05 AM

    Comment #27

    That can’t be right Jail, Ihatetoon said he was “poor”?


  • Mindshaft

    Feb 27, 2019 at 6:37 AM

    Comment #28

    Anyone else noticed that Perez is not falling down so much now that Almiron has come into the side?

  • Nicky the ball tosser

    Feb 27, 2019 at 6:43 AM

    Comment #29

    Dubravka, Rondon, Schar, Lejeune, Longstaff or Hayden (we could cope with the loss of one but losing both would weaken us), Almiron and Perez, seem fundamental now to our improved form. You don’t want to lose any of them because you sense their understudies aren’t quite capable of performing at quite the same level.

    Fernandez for Lascelles, Manquillo for Yedlin, Ki or Shelvey for one of Longstaff or Hayden, maybe Barrecca for Ritchie, that’s about where we are in terms of depth without starting to weaken the side.

    We were noticeably a little less effective after the substitutions last night I thought.

  • Optimistic Panda

    Feb 27, 2019 at 6:44 AM

    Comment #30

    We out played Burnley, talk of them being poor is bollocks tactical master class by Rafa, Burnley had no where to play and just pumped high balls foward. Jesper/Catchty that’s long ball football!

    On Almiron, his work rate passing and runs were excellent my only negative would be he allowed himself to be dragged to far into the centre at times. He obvs wants the ball and to be involved but I think that’s why Ritchie didn’t play him in at times, hed put himself into a dead end by trying to get back into position. No big deal, games will solve that.

    We look confident organised and we’re going to be a test for any side in the prem now.

    The team looked like a Rafa team last night, 9 of his signings, if Ashley lets Rafa go itll be the biggest mistake since the Captain of the Titanic said “full steam ahead”

    Things look really bright on the football side, can I dare to dream of more investment in the side and infrastructure under Ashley or a new owner?

  • Jib

    Feb 27, 2019 at 6:47 AM

    Comment #31

    I think part of the attraction of NUFC for Rafa has to be the catchment

    A drum I’ve banged before
    If Rafa were to visit Alnwick or Hexham (I’m sure he has) ,
    both the same distance from Tyneside , as Manchester from
    Merseyside. He would see nothing but kids wearing toon tops.
    Even in Berwick and Carlisle half the population are Mags

  • Jib

    Feb 27, 2019 at 6:51 AM

    Comment #32

    You can see what Rafa means when he talks
    about upping the players awareness of game
    For Hayden to realise the burden of tackling was
    on his shoulders after Longstaffs soft yellow card
    shows fantastic maturity.

    Sean Dyche has gone down somewhat in my estimation
    I never figured him for a whiner and some of his coaching
    is anti – football.

  • Optimistic Panda

    Feb 27, 2019 at 6:52 AM

    Comment #33

    On Perez, wow, what a difference.

    I’ve been critical of him for a while, to weak trying daft tricks at the wrong time, lack of effort, pretending to be involved but not showing any desire.

    He seems to have been brought to life by Almiron, hes going on for 50 50 without falling all over and rolling about, he actually tries to win the ball back instead of pretending to try. His work rate has always been good but it’s gone up another level.

    Keep it up Perez I’ll be happy to eat my words, excellent effort in the last few games!

  • Nufc-83

    Feb 27, 2019 at 6:55 AM

    Comment #34

    Ilovetoon stop talking rubbish. Almiron was pulling there defence all over the place causing them to turn over possession time and time again. Playing well is not just about dribbling and scoring goals!

  • Jib

    Feb 27, 2019 at 7:03 AM

    Comment #35

    They’re showing the game again on BT now
    if there are any other saddos like me out there.

  • Jib

    Feb 27, 2019 at 7:09 AM

    Comment #36

    I thought it was the full game
    Just extended h/l

  • lochinvar

    Feb 27, 2019 at 7:12 AM

    Comment #38

    Haydn looks like he’s fitter and stronger than ever and has a real sense of purpose about his play these days. He’s an asset to the team.
    Surely he and the club can find a suitable hone base for him and even his wider family up in the leafy glades of Newcastle or Northumberland.
    If there was any family health concerns then the Freeman, RVI and Nuffield are all on the door step with world class staff and health care.
    You can even get BBC Wales on the telly to keep up your language skills.
    He’s part of the Rafalution and we should let him know he’s wanted up north.
    Going back to Neil Warnock or Swansea is not the solution.

  • c-dog

    Feb 27, 2019 at 7:27 AM

    Comment #39

    Mike Ashley would be an absolute nutter not to give Rafa what he wants. The man is a genius.

  • Jib

    Feb 27, 2019 at 7:40 AM

    Comment #40

    Although Rafa was rather coy in his post match interview
    with Jake Humphrey , the young’un kept at him and Rafa
    revealed he’s talked to Ashley and Charnley about what
    his bottom – line to sign a new contract is , so the ball is
    firmly in their court.


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