Newcastle: Benitez pleased; Diame happy with two goals; Hanley praises supporters

Rafa Benitez was pleased with his side’s convincing victory over Preston North End in the EFL Cup and believes that it shows the competition for places that exists within his squad. The result never looked in doubt and the match finished in United’s second 6-0 win of the season. They have the ability to blow sides away, even when some of their better players are not in the starting eleven. The manager will also be pleased that a changed defence kept another clean sheet.

“I think it is important to have players pushing and trying to show he can do well.”

 

“If you have three or four players that want to play in games it can only be a positive for the team and the future.”

There were lots of positives for the manager in this match and he will have been given food for thought by some of the players involved. Aleksandar Mitrovic was excellent on Tuesday night and was unlucky not to bag his first hat-trick in the black and white of Newcastle. He hasn’t been involved a lot this season, but his performance served as a reminder to his manager that he has the talent to dominate defences, especially in the English second tier.

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Another player to impress on Tuesday was Mo Diame, who opened his Newcastle account with two superb strikes from range. He has been frustrating since moving to the North East, but there is no doubting his talent and Tuesday could be the confidence boost that he requires to hit top form. It was a huge decision for the Senegal international to move back into the Championship and he will be pleased to finally be up and running at his new club.

“I was so happy that I got these goals. It wasn’t easy to have confidence when you’re not scoring goals or not even hitting the target sometimes – I missed one tonight, an easy one.

 

“But I’m happy to have scored two, and I hope that that will continue.”

The competition in the squad that is present at St James’ Park means that players have to be at their best in order to play regularly. The recent upturn in Ayoze Perez’s form means that Diame is facing a serious battle for the number ten spot. He has a different profile to Perez and has been favoured for the majority of the season due to his strength and power. However, he needed to add a better end product to his game and he is hoping that Tuesday’s performance will kick-start his Newcastle career.

Finally, Grant Hanley paid tribute to the Newcastle supporters for their magnificent support on Tuesday night. Almost 50,000 people were at St James’ Park to see Newcastle destroy Preston as they confirmed their place in the quarter finals of the EFL Cup. That is an incredible turnout for a midweek cup game against Championship opposition, highlighting how desperate the fan-base is to secure silverware.

“The support here is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.”

“I’ve never experienced it before – it’s unbelievable. Since I’ve been here, the fans have been first class, and it’s a credit to them that they turn out in their numbers every week, home or away.”

The supporters are completely behind the team at the moment and there is a feeling that something special is being built at the club. Rafa Benitez has recognised the importance of getting the fans on side and now they have a great opportunity to cause a shock in the cup. They will want another home draw and if they get that, there won’t be any teams that will want to come to a packed St James’ Park.

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