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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

  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 1:41 AM

    Comment #41


    Yes, true story…..DUB2 (minus the bit about national express)

    MA’s chopper’s been hidden away for a while now….no activity since the flurry of flights a couple of weeks ago when the meeting with Rafa happened

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 1:44 AM

    Comment #42


    Very few people appreciate a truly classic film, would you believe that ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ by the great movie director Ed Wood was absolutely slated when it was first released.

  • lochinvar

    May 31, 2019 at 1:49 AM

    Comment #43

    Why not ?
    EK035 DUBAI 1205

    Emirates scheduled flight into Newcastle today – Friday.

    Who needs Stansted

  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 1:52 AM

    Comment #44


    Royalty don’t fly emirates…..even in first class 🙂

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 1:52 AM

    Comment #45

    NY Mag

    Cheers mate, your mention of MA’s hidden chopper is something that’s going to make me wake up screaming tonight, I’m now too frightened to go to bed.

  • chicousa

    May 31, 2019 at 1:53 AM

    Comment #46

    Unbelievable! These young lads could use some cultural education! 😉

  • lesh

    May 31, 2019 at 1:54 AM

    Comment #47

    And for a bit of levity to ease the tension…….


  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 1:56 AM

    Comment #48



  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 1:57 AM

    Comment #49


    That’s probably DubaiMicky with a planeload of black and white keffiyeh!

  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 2:01 AM

    Comment #50


    Speaking of emirates……true story – I used to take that flight out of Newcastle on a pretty regular basis about 10 years ago.
    Back then they only had business and economy cabins, one flight (unbeknown to me) they had switched the aircraft (presumably cos of some maintainence issue) to a one that had a first class cabin.
    Imagine my delight when I got to the boarding gate and they changed my economy seat for a first class one and I was the only person in the entire first class section 🙂

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 2:09 AM

    Comment #51

    NY Mag

    I think I can top that, my brother in law always got upgrades on flights and when Me and the missus went to France one year with them by boat we thought great we’ll probably end up in a stateroom cabin.

    And guess what we did get get changed, to steerage in the lowest part of the ship, they never travelled with us again. True story!

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 31, 2019 at 2:15 AM

    Comment #52

    Time to see if I can sleep, got a day of shopping tomorrow as the bank of Granddad and Grandma are buying a new school uniform for our granddaughter, same school it’s just that she seems to grow a metre a month.

    Tomorrow we will see a change in the dunes!

    G’d night all.

  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 2:30 AM

    Comment #53

    Lol bill,

    Oh dear…..don’t get me wrong – I’ve also got burnt many,many times 😀

  • WLtoon

    May 31, 2019 at 2:34 AM

    Comment #54

    Hi all,, just read that all the hype about the flights arriving from UAE later is nothing but a wind up. The so called lawyer of the company interested in buying us is a Man U fan living in LA. U can find him on twitter bragging about winding the Geordies up. This might be old news to alot of bloggers on here but i feel like a rite mug for believing it was genuine

  • carltoon

    May 31, 2019 at 2:37 AM

    Comment #55

    Positive thoughts for today. good night

  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 4:16 AM

    Comment #56


    I have no idea about Twitter – don’t use it
    No doubt if things don’t come to fruition there’ll be a meltdown…..

  • NY Mag

    May 31, 2019 at 4:20 AM

    Comment #57

    BTW, goodnight Carltoon…….
    Tomorrrow (or today) is sheikh down Friday 🙂

  • lochinvar

    May 31, 2019 at 6:01 AM

    Comment #58

    NY, EGB and WL
    Chat about Emirates flights good gentle humour without any real substance attached to it nor expectation of any involvement in the news merry go round. Just good craic. We wise ones know the reality of all this.
    If a Mank thinks we believe the guff that’s floating around about takeover Sheiks then they’re dumber than they look. Mancs not Sheiks that is. Must be something to do with the last days of their Empire. Hail Pep, goodbye Europe and hello to Salford City as the real football team on their patch.

  • hibbit

    May 31, 2019 at 6:40 AM

    Comment #59

    well it’s Friday, have the feeling its going to be a long day.

  • Reilly

    May 31, 2019 at 6:42 AM

    Comment #60

    Absolutely nothing is going to happen today is it

  • Shoulders knees

    May 31, 2019 at 6:50 AM

    Comment #61

    Well the hours will pass, far too slowly I fear.

  • toon22

    May 31, 2019 at 6:59 AM

    Comment #62

    At best they will come out with some lie about a holdup
    Might take another week
    Until August

    What shop do you think we will buy with this seasons transfer budget ?

  • thereallowickmag

    May 31, 2019 at 7:08 AM

    Comment #64


    Read the comments at the bottom of the article from DT. Seems like he’s clued up on how these deals work. Interesting read.

  • hibbit

    May 31, 2019 at 7:16 AM

    Comment #65

    DT comments

    1 hour ago
    I have no idea what kind of “terms” or documentation has been submitted to the Premier League as intimated by BZG, but if the S&P has been signed, then it would be difficult for Mike Ashley to back out unless he wants to have his pants sued. And assuming Due Diligence has been completed and satisfactory, then the sole remaining obstacle / condition precedent to be satisfied will be the Fit and Proper Person Assessment by the Premier League.

    Fingers & toes all crossed this takeover gets through!


    1 hour ago
    I also notice that the media has another obsession with the takeover being conducted in public. As I mentioned in (1) above, there may have been a Confidentiality Clause in the Heads of Terms preventing disclosure during the period of Due Diligence. However, once the S&P has been signed, and assuming that there is no further Confidentiality Clause in the S&P itself, both Buyer and Seller are free to publicise the transaction.

    Having said this however, I would usually put in a Confidentiality Clause in the S&P just so as to prevent any possibility of a last minute competitor coming in, inducing the Seller to breach the S&P and go to the competitor offering more attractive terms. So it does seem odd that this whole transaction is being conducted in public.


    1 hour ago
    (2) Upon completion of satisfactory Due Diligence, parties enter into a formal Share S&P, with one key Condition Precedent (ie conditions that have to be satisfied before the completion of the transaction) being approval from the relevant authorities (in our case the Premier League Board with their Fit & Proper Assessment).

    (3) Upon satisfaction of all Conditions Precedent, completion of transaction takes place with payment of remaining consideration by buyer and transfer of shares (to be notified to Companies House) from seller to buyer.

    I keep reading from the Chronicle that there is no “bid” – the simple answer to this is that as a private company owned by private person(s), the only documents you need to buy and sell the company is the Share S&P. You only lodge a formal offer / bid and issue an Offer Document if you are taking over a Public Listed Company. So this obsession with there not being a “bid” sounds like bull to me. Mike Ashley is the only person that needs to sign off on the S&P with the buyer.

  • Shoulders knees

    May 31, 2019 at 7:19 AM

    Comment #66

    Cheers Hibbit
    A good read , he does seem clued up.


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