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Benitez Points To This As One Of Newcastle’s New Strengths

It was almost a joke when Newcastle would always finish top of the Premier League injury table every year.

And things got worse when Mike Ashley arrived, and he wanted a small squad to keep the costs of Newcastle under control.

That only magnified the problem because we would be short of players as soon as some of the top players were injured or suspended.

All that changed almost magically when Rafa Benitez appeared on the scene on Friday, March 11, 2016,

When Rafa arrived we had 13 injuries – today we have one – with Sean Longstaff out with his knee ligament injury but with the good news that he’s recovering more quickly than expected.

Rafa Benitez – 13 injuries when he first arrived

Lack of injuries has been the case at Newcastle for the last three seasons, and Rafa has most of his squad to choose from in each game.

What was a mystery to previous managers was clear to Rafa, and he had the old 3G technology training pitches replaced with 4G technology in the summer of 2016.

4G surfaces are defined as artificial grass, like 3G, but without the need for rubber crumbing and the surface is much easier to play on with a more cushioning effect: less stress on the body.

Rafa also brought in two coaches especially to deal with preventing injuries and helping players recover more quickly once injuries were picked up.

It’s a massive turnaround with injuries and Rafa doesn’t always get enough credit for what he did.

But that’s what a world-class manager with an excellent staff can get done very quickly at a club.

This is what Rafa has said about what’s different at Newcastle now than when he arrived, and he talks about injuries in the Chronicle today:

“It’s not the same and I will tell you why. When we just arrived, we had 13 injuries, something that you couldn’t see,”

“I remember that we had to play with Vurnon Anita as a left full-back, and after with Jack Colback, because we didn’t have a left full-back or a holding midfielder.”

“We had to manage and I think we were unlucky because we played against Sunderland and Norwich very early after I joined.”

“If you had more time, maybe we could have approached these games with more options.”

“Now almost everybody is fit, and we have some players that now have some experience in the Premier League.”

“When we first came we had too many injuries and it wasn’t our team yet.”

Players are returning from International duty now (with no injuries), and it seems we will have an almost clean bill of health for Monday’s game at the Emirates.

Comments welcome.

29 comments so far

  • Optimistic Panda

    Mar 27, 2019 at 9:51 AM

    Comment #1

    If Rafa is in the top five managers does the argument he cant get a job with the top 6 still hold water?

  • carltoon

    Mar 27, 2019 at 9:54 AM

    Comment #2

    Of course he’s top six. What could he do with even a few better players.

  • Ben Afri

    Mar 27, 2019 at 9:55 AM

    Comment #3

    I don’t think it every held water @Optimistic Panda

  • Lindisfarne

    Mar 27, 2019 at 10:07 AM

    Comment #4

    Roll on Monday

  • Lindisfarne

    Mar 27, 2019 at 10:17 AM

    Comment #5

    I get the feeling that in the case of Joelinton we are a ‘stalking horse’ to establish a price before a CL club come in for him.

  • Lindisfarne

    Mar 27, 2019 at 10:21 AM

    Comment #6

    It does not really matter how highly Rafa is rated, for the first time since KK we have a manager that is making nufc operate properly.
    As much as he is allowed, but still a lot more than others.

  • hibbit

    Mar 27, 2019 at 10:30 AM

    Comment #7


    “Ray Charles and the Rayletts stole the show – much to Van’s visible annoyance”.

    That’s not how i recall the evening !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • RobLeenio

    Mar 27, 2019 at 10:30 AM

    Comment #8

    Rafa seems a little more open in the interviews he’s given recently. Less guarded, I mean. Is this maybe a sign that contract negotiations have begun and are going well?

    Surely a loosening of the lips suggests there are less restrictions placed (by himself or by anyone else) on what he can say.

    Clutching at straws, no doubt.

  • martoon

    Mar 27, 2019 at 10:45 AM

    Comment #9

    Robleenio – “after delivering trophies at Valencia, Liverpool, Chelsea, Napoli and NEWCASTLE”

    WTF? Have I been asleep?

    I guess they’re referring to winning the Championship after all we did get a trophy 😀

  • Ron Knee

    Mar 27, 2019 at 10:58 AM

    Comment #10
  • RobLeenio

    Mar 27, 2019 at 10:59 AM

    Comment #11

    martoon, lol – I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed both of our recent promotion campaigns and been proud of the trophy at the end. It’s a fine achievement to be promoted from that league as Champions at the first time of asking. To do it twice….

    Actually, including Keegan’s promotion season, we’ve been Champions each of the last three times we’ve competed in that league. Is that some kind of record, I wonder?

    However, it’s not quite what I had in mind when Ashley said “I’ll sell when we’ve won something!”


  • Bobbybee

    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:00 AM

    Comment #12

    Nice to see Miggy showing total commitment to the Toon by getting himself banned from a few future internationals. 🙂

  • lesh

    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:04 AM

    Comment #13


    Maybe I was chuffed to see Ray Charles and maybe I overstated Van’s annoyance. Can I just say that the audience seemed to be rocking along with RC and perhaps stole a lot of Van’s limelight. Unless it was the drink that coloured me vision!

    Van, as ever, gave a very polished and enjoyable performance.

  • hibbit

    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:06 AM

    Comment #14

    never thought of that Bobby bit of good news there than LoL 😉

  • Bobbybee

    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:07 AM

    Comment #15

    If Rafa stays I can see him winning a cup, once we’re no longer fighting an annual relegation battle. If not winning one, definitely going close – but preferably winning one!!!
    It’s impossible to compete whilst worrying that injuries might result in relegation. Give him the tools and he always wins something. We’ve got the biggest tool in the PL in Ashley, but that’s not quite what I meant.

  • lesh

    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:08 AM

    Comment #16


    Maybe Rafa’s just stressing the positives to let Ashley know what he’s at risk of losing by undoing the good work Rafa’s done, how much he’s taken the club forward – despite Ashley’s ‘support’?

  • Bobbybee

    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:13 AM

    Comment #17

    Hibbett, always look for positives mate, no need to travel if he’s banned and definitely no injuries getting picked up. It was a shocker like, so I can only assume it was deliberate so he could concentrate on his club. Can you commit a foul like that accidentally? Bad news for Paraguay, great news for us! 🙂

  • martoon

    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:43 AM

    Comment #18

    Ron Knee @10 – a cracking video that – I’ve never seen it before.
    Bobby – will Miggy be banned as it was in a friendly?

  • Ron Knee

    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:53 AM

    Comment #19


    I love that moment at 2:20.

  • jezza442

    Mar 27, 2019 at 12:34 PM

    Comment #20

    Just been given a job for monday night, security at the Emirates arsenal v the toon ha ha love it…..an advice on how to not explode when miggy gets his first goal would be greatly appreciated lol

  • RobLeenio

    Mar 27, 2019 at 12:39 PM

    Comment #21

    Really interesting video here, analysing Rafa’s tactics this season. I don’t agree with all of it. For example, the stats used are don’t take into account the changes we’ve seen on our play in recent weeks for eg, so some of the conclusions relate more to our pre-Christmas play, but it’s well worth a watch.

    Very heavily supports and vindicates Rafa’s tactical set-up this season.


  • RobLeenio

    Mar 27, 2019 at 12:40 PM

    Comment #22

    jezza, why bother avoiding it? The lethargic Arsenal regulars probably wouldn’t notice, while the travelling Geordie contingent will love it

  • Bobbybee

    Mar 27, 2019 at 12:46 PM

    Comment #23

    Martoon, yes mate, friendly or not a red card carries an automatic ban. It might be even heavier because, well, you’ve seen it I presume? Naughty naughty, but like I say, keeps him at home where he belongs 🙂 Some of our other players should follow his example! They keep coming back injured after all. They should all get sent off lol. 🙂

  • Bobbybee

    Mar 27, 2019 at 12:49 PM

    Comment #24

    Jezza, just let it go brother! 🙂 Do a merry dance when we score. Nothing in the rules that say you have to be an Arsenal fan after all. Just say you don’t follow football, you’re a rugby fan, but you had him in an accumulator to score and he’s just won you a tidy sum 🙂

  • Ron Knee

    Mar 27, 2019 at 12:50 PM

    Comment #25



  • jezza442

    Mar 27, 2019 at 1:08 PM

    Comment #26

    Cant wait lads …..come on the toon we’ll do it together lol

  • RobLeenio

    Mar 27, 2019 at 1:10 PM

    Comment #27

    That challenge by Miggy – we’d have been furious if it was done to one of our players. I have to hope it was an error of judgement, rather than anything malicious. I’ve seen nothing to suggest he’s a dirty player before now.

  • Munster Mag

    Mar 27, 2019 at 2:38 PM

    Comment #28

    Bobby, can you imagine it? Rafa going full pelt for the fa cup… 6th round… Home to Everton…. oh the atmosphere…!! 🙂

  • Munster Mag

    Mar 27, 2019 at 2:39 PM

    Comment #29

    Panda, nó i don’t think he’ll end up with top 5. Which top 5 club do you think will approach us for rafa? If you can get your head around it, that’s not to denigrate him, just fact, to my mind anyway.


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