Since we lost players through injury and then to the Asian Cup beginning in December Newcastle fortunes have actually improved.
When Ki, Shelvey, and Diame were all not available Rafa had to rely on Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden but the two young players have formed an excellent partnership in the middle of the park for Newcastle.
Sean looks every bit like Michael Carrick when Carrick was showing through at West Ham.
Florian Lejeune has been an important player again for us this season and his ACL injury in July was a blow to the side.
But the Frenchman fought back quickly and is once again a regular in the side and he makes things look so easy at the back – a fantastic acquisition by Rafa in the summer of 2017.
Rafa Benitez congratulates a resurgent Isaac Hayden
And we have brought in Miguel Almiron who has made a massive impact to the side and is playing well alongside Rondon and Perez up front.
Rafa has talked about the season so far in the Shields Gazette and while things were tough in the first half of the season when we were again fighting relegation we are picking up the points at the moment:
“In terms of players, we had these players. Then we lost Lejeune, Hayden was not right at the beginning, Longstaff was not even there.”
“Then after January we have Lejeune, we have Hayden, we have Longstaff, and the other players coming back from injuries.”
“So we are a little bit stronger than we were before.” “Maybe this one is not playing, but another one is doing well.”
“Is it important for us to have Lejeune back? Yes, because it increases the competition,”
“But also Lejeune, on the ball, you can see that he is quite good and makes a difference. “
“The reality, I think some people didn’t agree with me at the start of the season when I said the squad could be better if everything was fine.”
If we can keep us our current form of the last six games – we can surprise ourselves with the number of points we can pick up this season.
Rafa will want as many points as possible and maybe he now has the basis of a (very) good team at Newcastle?
Fantastic work from Rafa this season at Newcastle.