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A Win Tomorrow Will Take Us Closer To West Ham

Rafa has given his press conference for the last game tomorrow afternoon at the London Stadium against West Ham.

The Hammers have some excellent players, and it is expected to be another challenging game for our lads.

But we are on form and full of confidence after an excellent five-day training stint in southeast Spain followed by two wins against two other relegation sides – Huddersfield and Burnley.

Rafa Benitez – in a previous press conference

This is what Rafa has said about the opposition tomorrow and how he has brought together who really care about Newcastle:

“It will be a tough game and we must stay focused.”

“They (our players) care, they try really hard, and in the end, you get the results. Still, we have a lot of work to do.”

“We knew it would be a tough season, and still it will be a tough season but we were confident we could do it after the trip to Spain.”

“I think it’s quite positive because if you win everyone is happy.”

Wins do provide a huge uplift for fans – the more wins, the better and we have four in the previous six games.

It took us 17 games to get our first four league wins this season, so things are really looking up at the moment.

We are relatively well positioned in the league table too.

Now we need to keep winning, so we have a decent chance of finishing in the top 10 after our final game at Fulham on Sunday 12th May.

10West Ham38-352
12Crystal Palace38-249

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Comments welcome.

204 comments so far

  • Posh_Geordie

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:07 PM

    Comment #1

    Reeee Reeeee post..

    Then maybe the poor run was more to do with everyone getting used to the new system.

    I’m a big fan of Dummet but other than cover at CB I don’t feel he fits this system. Although I read one season he was 4th fastest in prem, before anyone thinks I’m saying he is slow.

    I’m still to be convinced with the other wingback cover.

    What would everyone’s, realistic, shopping list for the summer be ‘when’ Rafa stays.

    I’d be content with Rondon or a replacement that is in the top three on Rafa”s list and a wingback that can okay both sides

  • cyprus

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:15 PM

    Comment #2

    Rafa just on beIN. Mentioned Almiron’s pace and how spaces are opening with the two amigos. So those three starting.

    Talked about strong MF understanding of Hayden and longstaff, so they’ll be starting together too.

    When asked if he thinks our form will continue he was confident that yes. Results will keep coming. Last year we won 3 in a row after Spain, this, already 2, he added.

    So, confidence high.

  • RobLeenio

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:21 PM

    Comment #3

    posh_geordie, shopping list for the Summer:
    Replacement for Hayden and / or Diame. Losing both without replacing either will be a problem.
    Principle striker – preferably Rondon
    Replacement for Joselu. I think it’s clear by now that he’s not going to be the answer to our needs

    After that, it’s all about the system Rafa wants to play. I think we’re well set for wing backs, but may need to upgrade Yedlin and sign Barreca permanently if he wants to go 4 at the back, in which case we’ll want to replace Kenedy and Atsu also.

  • cyprus

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:24 PM

    Comment #4

    He also mentioned the 3-4-3 when attacking and how the wing backs Ritchie and Yedlin are providing an attacking option.

    For me, Ritchie has made that position his own. His class and passion are essential to this team, but also his adaptability. Nobody is making a fool of him in defence and his crosses in attack have been getting us the goals.

    In the last few games we’ve had bodies upfront, in the box, and that’s why we’re getting chances. And looking much better. Almiron helping too…

    Last little news. Wrighty has us winning 1-2. I’ll check the odds on that.

  • martoon

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:36 PM

    Comment #6

    RobLeenio – just catching up with the blog – thanks for confirming my suspicions that Nadeem was Veltman – I could tell because Veltman always referred to me as she, her – I think it’s supposed to wind me up but it doesn’t work 😀

  • lochinvar

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:37 PM

    Comment #7

    A number of earlier posts about Hayden and family.
    Many of us have worked away over years and the economics of life don’t always allow otherwise.
    However footballers have massive financial support and additional club support such as club houses to help them with relocating.
    Hayden could surely move up here with family and enjoy a fabulous quality of life with Newcastle and Northumberland on his doorstep.
    Has his head been turned by the lurid lights of London a mere 150miles away from Cardiff ?
    Will be interesting to see if he relocates the whole family out of Wales if he manages a move in that direction or elsewhere. There’s unlikely to be any Premiership Clubs in Wales next season.

    The way he’s playing alongside Longstaff is good to see and could be the core / spine of a really great next season.

    Think again lad,

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:37 PM

    Comment #8

    See Shelvey has asked to play for the Under 23’s tonight at Fulham.
    Request granted so is not in the squad to play tomorrow

  • RobLeenio

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:44 PM

    Comment #9

    Lochinvar it sits with us I think. Hayden needs to feel a little Gallowgate love heading his way. Who could resist that?

  • Tsunki

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:44 PM

    Comment #10

    It’s odd that a pro footballer should be so rooted when career advancement may necessitate moves to other countries never mind counties but hey ho, if he wanna go…

    My take is he thinks he can do better than Newcastle and getting into the side and playing out of his skin helps his move along. Thanks for the commitment etc but sorry Isaac you will be on the forgotten list in no time and not difficult to replace. No hard feelings either way.

  • RobLeenio

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:47 PM

    Comment #11

    Charlie yep I reckon it’s a big plus on the lad’s character. Not many big time Charlies would be willing.

  • bettyswallocks

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:49 PM

    Comment #12

    I think Rafa will be purring inwardly at the team’s recent upturn in performance and the emergence of Longstajff plus the arrival of Almiron will surely tempt him to stay and continue his project.

    I think he also has a point to prove with regards to not just being a defensive manager as has been continually rolled out in the media when we were relying heavily on our defence due to the inconsistency of our forwards. He has commented on this and appeared to be somewhat narked that he was being labelled as over defensive hence a more appealing style now we have more cohesion in the team.

  • Tsunki

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:55 PM

    Comment #13

    I think it’s becoming obvious that Almiron is Rafas huge “I told you so” to the club establishment.

    The nitpicking automaton bean counters, the bum scratching imbecile Charnley, the cynical PR insects and even the wobbling walrus himself won’t have the slightest inkling of a clue about the tactical impact such s played has, they’ll just see the sudden equation of how £20m of their lovely English pounds hasn’t been wasted at all but translated into next year’s delicious tv revenue, shirt sales, possible sponsorship uplift and yes even double or more in turnaround player sale. All that lovely lolly to take their clothes off, lard themselves up and dive into. 😀

    Oh and the bonus ball? The scorching sun of bad publicity eclipsed until the next time Mike wants to extrude his next horrific evacuation all over the paying support. Happy days.

  • 9

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:56 PM

    Comment #14

    I’ve logged on specifically to say:
    “Cheers, Tsunki @10……………
    that’s the most graceless comment I think I’ve ever heard”

    But, while here, I’m putting in my two’pennoth: Rafa signs up and stays. Hurrah!

  • RobLeenio

    Mar 1, 2019 at 5:57 PM

    Comment #15

    Betty’s I’m going out on a limb and saying Rafa’s going nowhere. It’s just a matter of timing as far as I’m concerned.

    I dunno where a successful team and Rafa staying leaves the protest though. I dearly want Ashley out too and if the first two happen then the third is pushed down the consciousness of the fans

  • bettyswallocks

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:08 PM

    Comment #16

    Rob…….. I think Rafa is doing an amazing job despite Ashley with his constraints and lies. Maybe he considers this as an added challenge that makes him more determined to succeed against the odds.
    He will be obviously hoping like the rest of us that Ashley dies or sells up but in the meantime he has to be commended for just getting on with his job,

  • simon376

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:23 PM

    Comment #17

    I don’t know the full story about Hayden, but sometimes you have to put family first. I know when Gavin left, he really wanted to stay, but felt they had to be close to parents and grandparents after his son was born with part of his arm missing. He told me not long after the move he wished he had stayed and knew would have been better off here, but also knew had to be with family. Things fortunately worked out well for him, his wife son and daughter, all doing well, but he still has a love for the club. Often texts me when I’m at a match (if it can get through with dodgy 3 coverage at the ground) or just in general to talk about the club, still classes it as his club.

    If Hayden needs to get away because of a family problem, let’s support him and thank him. If it’s not a must, let’s hope his wife/girlfriend can see sense and decided to support him and move up here. But as I said, if a family problem, thank him and wish him well

  • DaveD1000

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:32 PM

    Comment #18

    Simon 17
    as far as I can see the lad’s partner is ill and being treated in a London hospital. Hence the talk of moving to Fulham,Palace.

  • Lindisfarne

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:33 PM

    Comment #19

    Is S-O-R-E-N-S-E-N playing for the U23s tonight?

  • Hail Wor Ashley

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:40 PM

    Comment #20

    Some bitter gits towards Hayden I see.

    If you’ve read the article in full, how can you fail to understand his reasoning and do you have any foundations to claim he’s just using it all as a pre-text for an ulterior motive?

    Tsunki has always been a c***.

  • jane

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:42 PM

    Comment #21

    1 N. Harker
    6 L. Cass
    2 R. Barrett
    8 J. Shelvey
    5 O. Bailey
    4 K. Watts
    10 M. Longstaff
    11 M. Sangare
    7 T. Allan
    3 R. Longelo-Mbule
    9 Y. Toure


  • bettyswallocks

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:46 PM

    Comment #22

    I personally think Hayden will be persuaded to stay once he weighs up his options in the summer. He certainly is starting to realise the potential that Wenger saw in him as a young lad.

  • Optimistic Panda

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:49 PM

    Comment #23

    Hayden has been brilliant of late and from what I’ve read his bairn is still attending hospital in London.

    I dont know why but I totally understand, I’m not a parent but the last thing I’d want to do is move a child from where it had been receiving treatment for a condition from day one.

    I’d love him to stay but good luck to him and his family.

  • jane

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:55 PM

    Comment #24

    “I’ve read his bairn is still attending hospital in London”

    is his fiancé and daughter unwell?

    “Isaac Hayden tells George Caulkin about fatherhood, his fiancé’s illness, and sets the record straight over his desire to leave the club”


  • martoon

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:59 PM

    Comment #25

    For anybody interested the full article:

    His first answer lasts almost 13 minutes, a jumbled torrent of words that reflect just how much Isaac Hayden needs to talk, to explain. The question was not exactly Jeremy Paxman, not quite David Frost or Jonathan Dimbleby, but the gentlest of dollies about whether the Newcastle United midfield player is enjoying his football. Enjoyment, it turns out, is not a straightforward concept. In Hayden’s existence, nothing is.

    Hayden is playing for “a huge club with fantastic fans,” but satisfaction is tempered. This is “not a place you’d willingly give up,” he says, but it is what he tried to do, pushing to leave Newcastle last summer and again in January, driven to sacrifice something for his family, which is not the way football usually works. And yet his story at St James’ Park is not done. The curtain has risen on a second act.

    Hayden, 23, has a one-year old daughter who has changed his outlook on life
    Hayden, 23, has a one-year old daughter who has changed his outlook on life
    There he was on Tuesday, excelling in a 2-0 victory over Burnley, saluting the crowd afterwards, one of the last to step from the field. And here he is now, picking through his dilemma. If 2018 was the most traumatic year of his life and career, then 2019 has begun very differently, with ten consecutive league appearances for Rafa Benítez’s team. When you think about it — and Hayden does, often — it is all pretty strange.

    Hayden arrived on Tyneside in the summer of 2016, when Newcastle were preparing for the Sky Bet Championship. An Essex boy, he joined from Arsenal on a five-year contract. “I was single and I had a ‘world is my oyster’ mentality,” he says. He found a city which craved connection. “People want you to relate to their club, to understand it, maybe to fall in love with it,” he says. “I’ve done those things.”

    Hayden is still only 23, but there are others to love now; Lauren, his fiancé, and Adriana, their one-year-old daughter. Fatherhood has “massively” changed the way he looks at things. “As a player, you do what’s best for the team, but I’m a human being, too, and sometimes you have to do what’s best for your individual circumstances,” he says. “I don’t want to be the kind of person who hides away from saying that, who isn’t honest.”

    Truth pours from him. At Newcastle’s training ground, Hayden is described as a nice lad, smart and quiet, but having tried to protect his family, he now wants supporters to understand. To do that takes detail. “My daughter’s birth and everything leading up to it was very traumatic; not many people know what it was really like,” he says. “My fiancé was very, very ill for the whole term of her pregnancy, the whole 9 months.

    “She was bed-ridden, couldn’t do anything. She was being sick 20-30 times a day. She had hyperemesis gravidarum, the condition that Kate Middleton had. She was going into hospital to be put on drips. She was in Newcastle at that point, but her family is based in the south west, mine’s in Essex and she really had no support. I remember we played Stoke [City] at home and I was at hospital with her at 5am and then played after three hours sleep. It was carnage.

    “When Adriana was born in December 2017, she was six weeks premature and then she was in neonatal care. She had ongoing problems with her breathing and temperature control. She was in the Portland Hospital in London. While all that was happening, trying to play football was difficult. She’s doing okay now, but there’re still a lot of things, little checks and stuff, and we like to use the same hospital for her specific needs.

    Hayden excelled in thre 2-0 victory over Burnley on Tuesday nightHayden excelled in thre 2-0 victory over Burnley on Tuesday night
    “They come and see me quite regularly, but I want to be in a place for my daughter to settle down and have a happy home environment and not be moving around too much. Lauren has done an awful lot for me and given up a lot to have a child, especially in the situation we did. Looking back, I don’t know how she did it. She deserves to be in a position where she’s happy, where’s she’s closer to her family and closer to the hospital.”

    Because of the skewed way we look at football, some might not accept this logic. Hayden can afford it; buy help, get a nanny. “We tried, but it’s not something we want to do,” he says. So suck it up; he can afford discomfort, too. “People will say, ‘you earn thousands of pounds a week, you’re an hour’s flight away from your child, what’s the problem’, but the whole point of being a dad is to be there,” he says.

    “When she’s older, I don’t want her to say ‘dad paid for everything, but I only saw him once every three weeks’. I want her to say ‘I did this with daddy, we went there together’. Money isn’t everything. It’s about the time you spend with children, the effort you put in. I want to know her. I don’t want to miss her walking for the first time, talking, all those things. I want to be a proper dad.”

    In July, Brighton & Hove Albion tried to sign him. It made sense. “It’s frustrating; when people saw Brighton were interested, they assumed I must want more money,” Hayden says. “No. I would have taken a pay cut. It was exactly the same in January. The manager knows that. Everyone at the club knows my situation, my character.”

    There was empathy from Benítez, from Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, but the club’s attempts to find a replacement fell through. Pre-season had been a write-off and then Hayden found himself stuck and out of the squad, “a double whammy,” as he puts it. When he was needed at Cardiff City in August, his head was scrambled. His appearance as a half-time substitute was calamitous.

    “It was a whirlwind,” he says. “I didn’t go on purposefully thinking about getting sent off, that wouldn’t cross my mind, but Josh Murphy was causing us problems, taking players on, skinning players and I thought ‘well, he needs to get whacked’. I couldn’t let him take the piss, but my challenge was too firm, the wrong type of tackle and I knew the red card was coming.

    “I sat in the dressing-room on my own. I knew what I’d done was wrong, that I was going to get stick. After coming out publicly saying I wanted a transfer to getting sent off, I was at the lowest of lows. It reflected where I was mentally. It just highlighted everything I was feeling, compounding the misery.

    “When I look back on it now, 2018 as a whole was just terrible. Professionally, I only started two games, I got the first red card of my career and personally, it was difficult as well. I made some mistakes. It was a very stressful period. I hope I’ve improved as a man and as a father since then.”

    Hayden, from Essex, came through the Arsenal academyHayden, from Essex, came through the Arsenal academy
    Lauren, 28, was there for him. “It was some year, but she’s been so supportive,” Hayden says. “She’s done so much for me, especially in terms of the mentality thing. When I was at my lowest she told me to keep my head screwed on, to keep working hard. She’s done more than anybody can ever know.”

    It has given him perspective. “I wouldn’t say my life has been on hold because you can always find little solutions to improve things, but limbo is the word,” Hayden says. “You don’t know whether you’re coming or going. You’re always in that strange place. I don’t blame the club. They had to do what’s best for them and I completely respect that. You have to respect the fans most of all. When you’re contracted to do a job, you fulfil your duties.”

    In the meantime, Hayden has found prominence again. Injuries and international call-ups cleared space in Newcastle’s midfield and he has filled it, less newsworthy, perhaps, than Sean Longstaff beside him, but just as impressive and, in a way, more startling. “The manager said to me, ‘you’re good enough to play here, there’s no pecking order, you have a clean slate’,” Hayden says. “He’s been really good with me.”

    Hayden has been good in return. He is solid, professional, aware of his surroundings. “It’s not like I’ve downed tools,” he says. “I would never do that. I get where people are coming from. They’re Newcastle through and through and if a player comes out and says ‘I want to leave’ for whatever reason, they’re always going to have that angst. But it’s never been the case that I don’t like the club, the city or the fans. I do. It’s nothing to do with that.

    “This is a huge club. It’s also a frustrating club, because it’s got the infrastructure to be in the Champions League, 52,000 fans at every home game, all the away ends packed out wherever we go, it’s a one-club city. It’s got all the makings to be enormous but for whatever reasons it’s not reaching its potential. It’s not the kind of club you’d want to leave.”

    The irony of that is not lost on Hayden, a sportsman living a privileged life but still just a person, with the same concerns that each of us have about family and love and guilt and responsibility. A man being pulled in different directions. “You have all these questions in your head,” he says, “but until the summer, that’s it. It’s head down, full focus, doing everything I can to help Newcastle. And I know I can do more. It’s not finished.”

    In spite of it all, here Hayden is, reborn and reenergised when he least expected it. Here he is, thriving in the Premier League, soaking up applause. “Here I am,” he repeats. “Yeah, exactly.” A smile flickers on his lips. And after all those words, after all that explanation and to return to where we started, is he enjoying his football? Can he? Hayden reconsiders and, this time, his answer is brief. “Yeah,” he says. “I am.”

  • Optimistic Panda

    Mar 1, 2019 at 6:59 PM

    Comment #26

    The major upturn in performances came after we best Citeh after coming back from behind, gave the team confidence and belief.

    Almiron and Longstaff have provided a lift bit of a boost but it’s been a all round change of attitude since Citeh.

    We were unlucky against Spurs on the opening day, Kennedy missed a pen, Young should have seen red and we should have had a pen at old Trafford, Wolves Spurs again etc

    Theres more were we dropped points we shouldn’t have, the season hasn’t been as bad as some would have you believe.. We could easily be ten points better off.

    Theres not a massive upturn in form we’re finally getting our just desserts!

    Performances have definitely gone up over recent weeks that’s competition and players not willing to give up their place, form looks different but it’s getting the rub of the green and game management more than anything else.

    Good on ya Rafa!

  • jane

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:03 PM

    Comment #27

    thanks martoon i’ll read it later my tea’s ready 🙂

  • Optimistic Panda

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:06 PM

    Comment #28

    He’s smashing it at the minute, good luck to him.

    Didn’t Gavin Peacock leave for similar reasons.

  • simon376

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:12 PM

    Comment #29

    Thanks for the article, surely we can understand why he feels he needs to move. Ideally would love him to have his whole family up here, but if it’s not an option, he has to do what he thinks is right and for the best

  • GeordieTwo

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:13 PM

    Comment #30

    I haven’t read the blog much lately but does anyone else think we will sell Shelvey in the summer? The emergence of Longstaff and the presence of Ki (and probably Diame with a contract extension) seems to make it likely. We can probably still get 10M or so for him although I might be a tad optimistic there. I think Hayden will leave as well, and possibly Kenedy unless we get a good deal for him. Not sure what will happen to Muto. He hasn’t been given enough of a chance imo. Hoser will be gone and possibly Darlow. That’s a lot of changes but to make us a true top 10 it’s necessary.

  • 9

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:13 PM

    Comment #31

    Betty @22 Interesting how different everyone’s “personal opinion” can be. Reading what Hayden has said, and bearing in mind there is absolutely no family connections anywhere near Newcastle, I am absolutely astonished that someone can judge that he’ll choose to stay here. There is not one thousand of a thousand the chance of a thousand that this young lad will stay here. I assume, Betty, that you understand what family means?

  • Lascelles sells sea shells by the sea shore

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:18 PM

    Comment #32

    Hey guys… Just to play devil’s advocate, I would like to pose a question to other fans, just something that has crossed my mind regarding upgrading the amenities around the club ie. training and ground refurbs.

    This scenario wouldn’t be beyond Ashley and his frugality though:

    Ashley gives Rafa the option to sell Longstaff for £20m (reasonable given his homegrown status and the potential he has shown already) to pay for the redevelopment of the training ground and other ancillary ground improvements citing the club must remain self sufficient.

    I would personally hate for something like that as the club should be generating enough income to do it from earnings rather than sales, but I have a sneaky suspicion the mischievous cretin at the head of our clubs table will be looking to put Rafa behind the black ball when it comes to the contract by citing that he gave the option of investment in his PR crusade. What would others think?

  • Munster Mag

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:19 PM

    Comment #33

    Jail when are you going to stop lying?? Why do you have to lie to try to prove a spurious point? Stop lying. I said we should look at Pearson when it looked like rafa wud leave us. Pearson has strolled that league with Leicester. It wasn’t a swop for rafa. Now stop lying. You are wrong about my rafa opinion. I rate rafa but if fergie was our manager I wud reserve the right to criticise. Stop lying jail, stop lying.

  • Munster Mag

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:19 PM

    Comment #34

    Jail, i never wanted ó Néill. Stop lying.

  • Munster Mag

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:22 PM

    Comment #35

    Jail, i said Watford were a good example of a low spending club over achieving. They have had a great season on a small spend and have a really good manager. I’d like their boss if rafa walked Where is the issue with that?? Stop lying. Stop twisting my words out of context. Toe-rag.

  • Tsunki

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:22 PM

    Comment #36

    “Tsunki has always been a c***.”

    Awww love you too, hail. But you’d know of course. If you read it I said no hard feelings, and tell me he’s going to leave a massive hole why dont you? He’s been good but so have others. We’ll manage.

  • GeordieTwo

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:22 PM

    Comment #37

    No chance that would work with Rafa Lascelles. It’s the type of slimy behavior that would drive him away. Selling Longstaff would in all likelihood be the final straw.

  • DaveD1000

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:24 PM

    Comment #38

    Sea shells
    Rafa goes MA PR machine goes up in flames anyhoo. Rafa if staying would end up with training facilities minus a potential capped midfielder who would have to be replaced

  • 9

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:27 PM

    Comment #39

    Tsunki @35, Of course we’ll manage. That’s not the point. The point is your total lack of human empathy.

  • Munster Mag

    Mar 1, 2019 at 7:31 PM

    Comment #40

    Frog, I think my friend mikey knows that rafa won’t need loads of dosh. 30mill this summer cud be enough to move us towards the top 8. A rebuild of the training side and freer reign on transfers on a fairly limited budget and I thi k rafa will stay. This is the biggest English job he will get, in my opinion. Or maybe jail is confusing my sense of realism with not liking the manager?

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