Newcastle United round-up: Merino discusses Benitez's importance; Mitrovic happier when with Serbia
Newcastle United are approaching a key period in their history. The uncertainty regarding the future of Rafa Benitez continues to cause concern among supporters, but a few positive results during the next few weeks will improve the mood on Tyneside. Mikel Merino has already emerged as a fan’s favourite at the club and looks set to play a significant role this season. The Chronicle posted quotes from the midfielder regarding his new manager and his importance to the club:
“Rafa says to us to keep the faith and we believe in his words. So what we have to keep doing is keep trying hard, keep playing, and the main thing is to keep doing good things and if we do it then we know good things will come. We are with our coach and we know this is the way to act.
“Newcastle needs to be a compact team, we are like a family and we have to keep this mentality because we don’t have the potential that Manchester City, Manchester United or the other big teams have. So we have to keep playing, keep running a lot with all the effort, this is not negotiable – and we have to each give 100 per cent out on the pitch. Only like this can we have a successful season.”
These quotes are enlightening and show the relationship that Benitez has with his players. The Spaniard has been criticised for his public comments regarding the transfer window as they show a disrespect for the current players, but that doesn’t seem to be a huge issue for the squad. Newcastle need to be well organised and battle hard for every point. Merino’s comments underline that approach and it should be one that provides success if carried out correctly.
Benitez still has his critics and the latest person to direct his frustration at the Newcastle boss is the Slavoljub Muslin. The Serbia national team coach has been discussing Aleksandar Mitrovic. The striker has been in great form for his country and his coach suggests that he is more comfortable playing international football.
“Maybe the system we play with three attackers suits him better. “Perhaps the coach in Newcastle doesn’t have as much confidence in him as I do. He is our first centre-forward. Perhaps he feels more comfortable playing for the national team than he does for his own club.”
The striker may not be the first-choice at St James’ Park, but he has himself to blame for that. Benitez doesn’t trust him and that is justified. In the last match, he scored against West Ham, but he also picked up a three-match suspension for elbowing Manuel Lanzini. He needs to mature and concentrate on playing for the team rather than himself. If he does that, he will have a chance of succeeding on Tyneside.