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Rafa Speaks On Former Duo Ahead Of Big Final

Rafa Benitez has praised former Magpies Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum ahead of their big Champions League final match this Saturday. While both players were only around under Rafa’s initial 10-game spell, he seems to recognize and appreciate their abilities and what they bring to a side.

Rafa Benitez– he understands the game so well

Rafa had this to say about both Gini and Moussa after our relegation in 2016:

“They were good players for us but we were relegated and they had offers. Sometimes players do not get offers when they are relegated.

“They did and I am telling you Sissoko had three very good ones, including one very important one. That is good for them because you go down and have top sides interested in you.”

Rafa here shows how much he understands the modern footballer. Both Gini and Moussa were internationals and desired to play at the top level. While the fans had the right to criticize both players as the team that season was just dreadful, Rafa shows his pragmatism in defending the situations of both players:

“I understand the feelings of some fans who see them playing well or badly, that’s one thing, but both players were good professionals.

“If you play in a very good team, it’s easy. You will play better in this team. It’s very clear that with better players around, some players will be better, and you can’t question the level of Spurs or Liverpool.

“Consistency normally means a good team, it depends on one player sometimes, but these lads were good professionals and good workers. Sissoko had some problems at the beginning [at Spurs] but he’s a good pro and he’s continued to grow.”

The team that Rafa Benitez inherited from Steve McClaren was a mess.  The determination and cohesion that Rafa instilled in last season’s Newcastle United squad were nowhere to be found under McClaren.

While Gini was only at Newcastle for a year, he was a very professional player and has since spoken highly of the club.

Sissoko’s issue stemmed from the interviews he would give in the French press, often while on an international break, about how much of a dream it would be to join such and such a team.  That definitely did not endear him to our fans.

Rafa went on to praise Sissoko’s game that, to be fair, was much improved in the short time under Benitez:

“With Sissoko’s characteristics, you can see he is very powerful, has the pace and brings a lot. In this Tottenham team, with all these players around him, he is now a key player for them.

“For us, the best game he played for us was against Spurs [when we won 5-1 on the final day of the season]. That was in a 4-3-3 as one of the midfielders.

“He sometimes played as a winger for us but he is not a proper winger. He has pace but not the crossing ability. In the middle of 4-3-3, he was doing really well for us.

“Now he is playing in a 4-2-3-1 and doing well because he is learning and more mature. He is someone who is keen to learn and follow the instructions of his manager.”

It is good of Rafa to speak so highly of two very talented former players who have, to be perfectly honest, gone on to better things.

When asked about his future at Newcastle, though, he was not quite as talkative.  Rafa refused to give any indication of where things were with his contract or the potential takeover.  He was, however, as polite as you would expect him to be.

 

66 comments so far

  • Sliema

    May 31, 2019 at 12:07 AM

    Comment #1

    Wish we still had Gini. Last signing I got excited for. Until might ofc

    1
  • RobLeenio

    May 31, 2019 at 12:12 AM

    Comment #2

    Oi, Sherlock, if you’re talking about ‘sheikhover’, it was yours truly.

    My finest hour, that, closely followed by ‘Sheiks on a Plane’

    Crap movie, decent pun….

    😉

    4
  • one fine day

    May 31, 2019 at 12:19 AM

    Comment #3

    One fine day
    SHADOW SHEARER
    Comment 215

    That was 12 years ago, I don’t think there was a fit and proper test back then.

    More my point is, if it doesn’t take that long, the takeover should be concluded by now. Im starting to sense a PR stunt. A takeover talk that’s not gonna happen

    Yes i realize that i heard of it was around the time the former Thai pm was pushed to sell city over his track record back home .So the Ashley comparison was said very much tongue in cheek to attempt to lighten the mood here….shall get me coat and leave it to the doom mongers for a a while

    0
  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 12:20 AM

    Comment #4

    Hey Rob,

    Nee private flights due in at NCL tomorrow – there’s gonna be a meltdown 🙂

    1
  • RobLeenio

    May 31, 2019 at 12:23 AM

    Comment #5

    NY Mag, I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!

    Well, not that shocked….

    😉

    1
  • RobLeenio

    May 31, 2019 at 12:28 AM

    Comment #6

    If a Dubai Royal flight hits turbulence, is it a case of Sheikh, Rattle and Roll?

    Nah, these are getting worse.

    😐

    2
  • toonbrother

    May 31, 2019 at 12:39 AM

    Comment #7

    http://www.nufcblog.com/2016/11/03/moussa-sissoko-proving-newcastle-fans-right/
    Ed wasnt a big fan of SIssoko
    he seemed to revel in his difficulties at Spurs
    hope he is enjoying his humble pie

    0
  • Bobbybee

    May 31, 2019 at 12:44 AM

    Comment #9

    They lied. Its Friday and I’ve heard NOTHING!!! Knew they couldn’t be trusted.

    3
  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 12:50 AM

    Comment #10

    Toonbrother,

    Humble pie?
    Or stupidity on your part – you do realize Neil wrote this article, not Ed

    6
  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 12:52 AM

    Comment #11

    Aye Bobby, its a disgrace 😀

    3
  • toon22

    May 31, 2019 at 12:53 AM

    Comment #12

    Who do you think MA will pretend to sell us too next time ?

    Hope it’s someone funny

    3
  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 12:54 AM

    Comment #13

    toon22

    Do you know many billionaire comedians?

    3
  • Online Guy

    May 31, 2019 at 12:57 AM

    Comment #14

    Rob

    Thought you might appreciate some background music and Arnold to accompany your Shiek jokes..

    https://youtu.be/M5G8pfRowtU

    1
  • ronaldo aarons

    May 31, 2019 at 12:58 AM

    Comment #15

    I was always a fan and defender of sissoko. As a player. As a person in the media, guy was a ‘door handle’ (other term more apt).

    I’m glad in a way that he’s showing what he’s capable of but it’s disappointing I can’t take the mick that we shafted spurs for the fee when he wasn’t settling.

    Oh well, I’ll get over it once our saviour completes his sheikh over.

    0
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 12:58 AM

    Comment #16

    Just finished watching the England v S Africa cricket I recorded earlier and still can’t quite believe the catch that Stokes made. The crowd reaction was amazing they were stunned at it’s brilliance!

    2
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 12:59 AM

    Comment #17

    NY Mag

    There’s a comedian Prime Minister!

    0
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 1:01 AM

    Comment #18

    The sand still blows but the dunes remain unwaveringly the same. Perhaps today they will change!

    0
  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 1:01 AM

    Comment #19

    Bill,

    I suppose she is a bit of a laughing stock atm….

    0
  • Bobbybee

    May 31, 2019 at 1:04 AM

    Comment #20

    EGB is better than me at this, but come on, a whole hour of Friday wasted and zilch. Not a word. Blaggards I say, Blaggards. Mike bin Ashley’s been hiring actors, again.
    You think I’m being harsh on them? Bit more time maybe? What? Half an hour?

    1
  • Online Guy

    May 31, 2019 at 1:04 AM

    Comment #21

    Rob

    The link I sent you at 14 , when I try it myself it switches everything off here ..having to reboot etc..tablet goes off compleatly. X3 up to now .

    Be wary . Not sure I should try it again.

    0
  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 1:05 AM

    Comment #22

    Rob,

    It’s funny you should mention Dubai Royal flights….one arrived today into Stanstead – maybe they gonna get the national express up to Newcastle 😀

    3
  • Bobbybee

    May 31, 2019 at 1:07 AM

    Comment #23

    EGB Did you see them all looking like ‘Scream’ masks when he took the catch? Never realised how big a mouth was until then. Their Jaws, dropped and then kept dropping. 🙂

    3
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 1:07 AM

    Comment #24

    toonbrother, Sissoko was hopeless with us, nobody was denying he had the ability, just didn’t didn’t have the right attitude. It’s taking him a couple of seasons for the spurs fans to accept him but to start with they thought he was crap.

    Pogba is another in the same mould, great footballer, terrible attitude.

    3
  • chicousa

    May 31, 2019 at 1:09 AM

    Comment #25

    Rob @2
    What??? You think that “Snakes on a Plane” was a crap movie???!!! Brother, that was a camp classic! Samuel L Jackson issued one of the greatest and oft quoted lines in history in that film:
    “I’m sick of those mother-fcukin’ snakes on this mother-fcukin’ plane!”.

    I tell you true mate, it doesn’t get better than that! Modern day Shakespeare to be honest! 😛

    6
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 1:09 AM

    Comment #26

    Bobby

    Aye that’s exactly what I meant, I think my jaw dropped in astonishment as well. 🙂

    2
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 1:12 AM

    Comment #27

    NY Mag

    Aye she is but I was talking about the comedian who was playing a Prime Minister in a series and then got himself elected as a real one!

    1
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 1:15 AM

    Comment #28

    Am alone in having no sympathy for TM when she started blubbering in her quitting speech.

    Talk about Karma, she got it in spades! imo.

    2
  • Bobbybee

    May 31, 2019 at 1:15 AM

    Comment #29

    Bill, aye, best catch I’ve ever seen. He does everything he can to get there then just shoves his hand up facing backwards and it just sticks. 99/100 it would hit his hand and bounce out. Or clatter his hand and break a finger. Amazing. If anybody hasn’t seen it, look it up, it’s, well worth doing. You’ll never see a better catch.
    Great performance anyway. Put down a marker by thrashing one of the favourites by over 100 runs. We’re gonna win this at last. Three times runners up but this is out year. Put your house on it. 🙂

    3
  • RobLeenio

    May 31, 2019 at 1:18 AM

    Comment #30

    Cheers OLG, I think I’ll give that a listen tomorrow at work, bet there’s some classics on there.

    Also, if I can’t get sh!t dad joke inspiration from Tony Blackburn, then there’s something wrong.

    0
  • RobLeenio

    May 31, 2019 at 1:19 AM

    Comment #31

    NY Mag, is that true? I saw something on tw@tter and assumed it was made up.

    Stansted is bad for Newcastle, but has great access to Ashley’s gaff. Also, isn’t his helicopter based close to Northampton, just down the road from Stansted?

    😮

    2
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 1:19 AM

    Comment #32

    OLG

    My missus has been reading the latest Nexus magazine and she’s been absolutely horrified at the stuff about 5G.

    Can’t believe that anyone thinks it’s safe!

    1
  • RobLeenio

    May 31, 2019 at 1:21 AM

    Comment #33

    Chico, I’ll have to admit to never seeing it, so I’ll take your word for it, though I couldn’t quite make your words out – something to do with your tongue being rammed so firmly into your cheek maybe….
    😉

    1
  • ilovetoon8788

    May 31, 2019 at 1:21 AM

    Comment #34

    What’s this rubbish of Friday? Friday and Sat is the middle east weekend. No ones working and it’s Friday prayers for them.

    Nothing will happen today as no one’s working.

    2
  • RobLeenio

    May 31, 2019 at 1:24 AM

    Comment #35

    Bill “The sand still blows but the dunes remain unwaveringly the same”

    Deep, that.

    I’m hoping our new-found Sheikh is gonna brew up a sandstorm.

    0
  • RobLeenio

    May 31, 2019 at 1:26 AM

    Comment #36

    ilovetoon8788 surely if the negotiations are as far along as we have been led to believe, it will be in the hands of BZG’s UK-based lawyers?

    If so, they’ll be working our week, not the Arabic one.

    1
  • RobLeenio

    May 31, 2019 at 1:29 AM

    Comment #37

    Talking of the National Express, I bet this one never made it across the pond. Well worth a listen, it’s rather unkind to that particular institution.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc6qFpbAgwM

    2
  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 1:32 AM

    Comment #38

    Am going to repeat this so it makes sense.

    Am I alone in having no sympathy for TM when she started blubbering in her quitting speech.

    Talk about Karma, she got it in spades! imo.

    The difference a simple letter can make! 😉

    2
  • lesh

    May 31, 2019 at 1:37 AM

    Comment #39

    NYMag

    Stanstead would be perfect for that flight. It’s less congested than Heathrow or Gatwick, attracts less media attention than LHW and close enough to London where the parties legal and finance teams’ll be based – everything there for completion. Fingers crossed, nay everything’s crossed for some good news later today.

    1
  • lesh

    May 31, 2019 at 1:39 AM

    Comment #40

    OLG, RobL

    Wasn’t too sure that Tony Blackburn’s first Radio 1 show really hit the spot so here’s a little ditty which is right for the time and played by a real character.

    https://tinyurl.com/yyjd2aza

    Enjoy

    0




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