There has been a change in attitude under Rafa Benitez as the club are now a lot more open to targeting the cup competitions, even when playing their trade in the Championship. It is a small shift, but one that has had a huge effect on reconnecting the club and the fan-base. Tonight the Magpies will face Preston North End at St James’ Park and the Telegraph report that there have been over 45,000 tickets sold for the match, with more set to be sold before kick-off. This is an incredible figure and highlights how desperate the fan-base are to finally see their team lift a trophy again. Benitez commented on the ticket sales:
“You can see what it means to the fans and this club. It’s another reason why I’m pleased – everyone is pushing in the same direction.”
There is a positive atmosphere around the club at the moment and it is impossible not to feel that the future is bright at St James’ Park. Benitez saw the potential in the club and he is beginning to build something special. Although it is early days, the supporters are completely on side and that is half the battle for Benitez. There will be a great atmosphere at the match tonight and it is difficult to predict Newcastle not getting through to the quarter final of the EFL Cup.
Benitez won’t be willing to risk either Jesus Gamez or Daryl Murphy in the EFL Cup tie with Preston North End as both are still recovering from injury. Achraf Lazaar is another player that is not likely to feature as he isn’t 100% fit. There is going to be rotation as Benitez rests some of his first team players ahead of a match against the same side on Saturday.
“The players who were injured before are the same.
“Murphy, Lazaar who has a little problem, and Gamez it is too early because I don’t want to take any risks with any of them. We have enough players to use them.
“When the players are fully fit they will start training.”
There has been a concern about the lack of action that both Gamez and Murphy have been getting this season, but it looks like it has been injury keeping them out. They will both add much needed experience to the first team squad and they will have a part to play as the season progresses. Benitez is a manager that doesn’t take risks with injuries and this highlights that.
Isaac Hayden is the latest player to laud Rafa Benitez and his methods as he has improved significantly since joining the club. It was a huge decision to leave Arsenal during the summer, but it has turned out to be a wise one. The tactical side of his game has improved and he is now emerging as one of the most reliable central midfielders in the league. He gained experience at Hull last season, but it has been completely different at Newcastle and he has told the Chronicle:
“It’s a different ball game (under Benitez at Newcastle). I worked with Arsene Wenger, but maybe because I wasn’t really treated as a first-team regular there, it was a little bit different and I didn’t really open my eyes to certain things, whereas here I’m treated as a first-team squad member and I feel I’ve contributed.”
There have been a lot of Newcastle players praising their manager in the media and the improvement has been noticeable on the pitch. The team now have a game-plan for every single match and that is a refreshing change from past regimes. They now need to get back where they belong in the Premier League. Under Benitez, the sky is the limit.
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