It’s been another rollercoaster summer for Newcastle and Rafael Benitez, who begin the season with a tough game against Tottenham.
The Magpies have had to cope with restricted funds from Mike Ashley once again to try and find bargains in the market but did land a number of deals, including landing Martin Dubravka permanently and bringing Kenedy back to Tyneside on loan from Chelsea.
With another tough season ahead, Benitez’s press conference ahead of Saturday’s clash with Spurs has given us these three key takeaways.
Still just 26, there is many that believe Jonjo Shelvey could still have a spot in the England team but there is still concerns about his consistency and behaviour on the field – but Rafael Benitez believes the former Liverpool man has developed.
The Spaniard is expecting more mature performances from Shelvey, just 12 months after he was dismissed on the opening day against the same opposition for a stamp on Dele Alli – one of two red cards he earned last season.
“Jonjo Shelvey is more mature. The players know we’re playing against a very good team, and the key is to stay focused and have the right mindset from the first moment.”
Spurs have England’s best
Tottenham became the first Premier League side since the inception of the summer transfer in 2003 not to sign anyone during the close season, which Rafael Benitez admits surprises him – but he had no shortage of praise for the Lilywhites.
Identifying the amount of players that Spurs had at the World Cup in Russia, where Hugo Lloris was part of the France side that lifted the trophy, Benitez stated that Mauricio Pochettino possesses the very best of English football at his disposal.
“I would say it is a surprise that they (Tottenham) didn’t sign anyone. But at the same time, they had at least 11 players in the World Cup. We are talking about one of the best teams in the Premier League, and in terms of English players, Tottenham are the best team.”
Newcastle enter the campaign with major concern in defence following Florian Lejuene’s injury and moved to land Federico Fernandez from Swansea City on Deadline Day to bolster their squad. However, he will not feature in tomorrow’s game.
Fernandez will instead have to wait until at least next weekend’s trip to face Cardiff City to make his Newcastle United debut, with Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles the likely contenders to start in the heart of defence.
“Federico Fernández is not in the squad, because I think it has come too late. He needs some time to get to know his teammates, and the understanding between the defenders.”