Just six minutes after half time during Newcastle United’s first win of the season against Watford on Saturday, everyobody feared the worst. Jonjo Shelvey, the creative hub of Rafael Benitez’s squad, hobbled off the pitch to be replaced by Ki Sung-Yueng. He was joining Yoshinori Muto and Jamaal Lascelles in being forced off through injury.
He’s still saying all of the right things as far as the club are concerned.
Rafa Benitez’s most recent press conference had the Spaniard suggesting that he truly believes he can make Newcastle a top eight Premier League club, albeit his most immediate priority is survival.
No wins, bottom of the table and with things looking more and more desperate after each passing week, one has to admire Rafa’s optimism. Continue reading
Julen Lopetegui’s job isn’t just on the line at Real Madrid, it’s basically over it after he saw his team destroyed in El Clasico by Barcelona 5-1. This has left the European champions in 9th place, so bad is this position for the club that you almost have to glance twice at the tables.
Real have now lost 40% of their games and are 7 points behind leaders Barcelona who won 5-1 without Lionel Messi who is injured. The pressure was already under Lopetegui before the game and this result will surely end his job. Club president Florentino Perez has continued to take no prisoners when he sees his team hit a bad run of form, and Madrid’s display only underlined why Zinedine Zidane decided to leave in the summer, it was absolutely perfect timing.
As for Lopetegui, if he does, as expected, get the chop he’s in no mans land. In charge of the national team, Spain he went over 20 games unbeaten but after his ill timed move to Real Madrid before the World Cup, it has all gone wrong for him, and the gamble has massively backfired. In truth Lopetegui is a good manager, but he won’t be given the time to change things around for the club.
Rumours have already surfaced that assistant coach and former player Santiago Solari will take over, but that could just be in a temporary role. Real Madrid will be looking in earnest for a new permanent manager, but who should that be?
One name that comes to mind is Rafa Benitez. Benitez of course was given the job a few seasons ago and lasted just 7 months in the hot seat. He had lost just 3 games but Perez fired Benitez for three reasons: The first was that the defeats had become significant against their title rivals. The second was that he didn’t have a grip of the dressing room and the third led to a huge error where Madrid were ejected from the Copa del Rey after they played an ineligible player. It was, to put it mildly a bit of a circus.
But some credit needs to go to Benitez- a very decent manager. He took over at Championship side Newcastle United, then got them promoted to the Premier League and then received no backing from the chairman. Newcastle look destined for a relegation dog fight this season and if Madrid come knocking for Benitez surely he would go.
Benitez loves the club and his career has swarmed in and around Real. He has tons of experience in Spain, notably with Valencia. He could be the calm that the team need in the heat of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure which has surely rocked the club. Other coaches will be amongst the favourites to be the next Madrid manager, but perhaps the right choice is staring Perez in the face.
Until now, any talk of Rafael Benitez’s departure from Newcastle United has been spoken about from his point of view. It is nothing new; speculation over his future as manager on Tyneside is almost as old as his reign itself, but over the weekend, all the rumours and reports took a new twist.
Newcastle United fans won’t take too kindly to the comparison between their issues and those at Manchester United. After all, their next opponents are the record champions of England with 20 titles, and even though they have not lifted the Premier League in the five years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and their dolminance of English football came to an end, they have won the Europa League, FA Cup and played in the Champions League for five of the last seven years.
Well, Mike Ashley certainly knows how to pick his moments. For the first time since Newcastle United lifted the Championship title against Barnsley in May 2016, the owner attended a football match, at Crystal Palac on Saturday. It was important for the Magpies to stop the rot after three successive defeats, and they did that in unspectacular fashion. Rafael Benitez, as conservative as ever, was happy enough to take the 0-0 draw from Selhurst Park.
Something needs to be made very clear; Rafael Benitez is far from immune to criticism at Newcastle United. More often than not, though, he is vindicated in his decisions, and he has certainly earned the right to choose how he approaches the job. Benitez himself summed up the critique of the defensive display his side put in against Chelsea after the 2-1 defeat at St James’ Park, the first at the hands of the Blues since 2011.
Neil Warnock’s newly-promoted Cardiff City secured their first point of the Premier League season with a 0-0 draw at home against Newcastle United to kick off the weekend, but the number of goals belittled the number of talking points after a fiercely contested 90 minutes.
Midway through the first half after trying to pull one too many tricks out of his bag and losing the ball, Newcastle midfielder Kenedy lashed out, kicking Cardiff City’s Victor Camarasa across the middle of the shin in a move not out of place in a kickboxing match. The referee was standing only a few metres away, but failed to notice the blatant red card offense.
Newcastle may have had their ups and downs in recent years, but generally things seem to have been going well on Tyneside lately. After returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking in 2017 by winning the Championship title, the club solidified their top-flight presence with a good 10th placed finish. Having retained the services of popular manager Rafa Benitez, the club have seemed to be back in the ascendancy – and have continued their rise despite possessing what many called a “Championship team”. There have been cracks slowly emerging over the course of the summer, however, and nowadays the fog on the Tyne seems to be descending once again as the club’s internal struggles bubble over into the public eye.
It took just a few minutes of Saturday’s 1-0 friendly defeat against German outfit Augsburg for Newcastle United fans to start their protest. Mike Ashley has not set foot inside St James’ Park for 15 months now, but he was the target, as he has been for about a decade. Lee Charnley was in attendance to witness the discontent having spoken to manager Rafael Benitez before the kick off; after the game, Benitez, who’s mood hard improved markedly since the game at Braga, continued to make his feelings known.