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Press Conference Analysis: Benitez discusses why he stayed at Newcastle; compliments Tottenham and praises the supporters

Jake Jackman




Rafa Benitez has given his first pre-match press conference of the season and it is obvious that he is pleased to be back in the Premier League. It was an extraordinary decision to stay at Newcastle United after relegation, but he sees the potential of the club and the next step is stabilising at this level.

“I’m really pleased (to be back in the Premier League). When I decided to stay, it was because I wanted to go back to the Premier League with this massive club. We are here, so we’ll try to stay,” 

“We have to be sure that every single game, the players will give everything, and myself and my staff will do the same.”

These comments show the Spaniard’s intentions. The first task will be staying up, but privately, he will want to do more than that this season. Benitez is an expert at managing expectations and that is clear from the above quotes. It is quickly becoming a cliché to take one game at a time, but the unpredictability of the Premier League means that it is the best strategy. Although he has a Champions League medal, the Magpies boss realises that he can’t get ahead of himself and focus on each match before concerning himself with an overall goal.

Tottenham are a dangerous team and Benitez was full of praise for Sunday’s opponents. It won’t be easy for the newly-promoted club to secure a positive result, but equally, Spurs won’t be relishing the task of coming to St James’ Park on the opening day.

“I think that Pochettino is a great manager – that is obvious – and they have the same team that was finishing second and third in the last two seasons, so they have a very good team,”

“They have the same manager, the same staff, the same players and more experience in the Premier League, so they will be even more dangerous.”

This is another example of Benitez managing expectations. He is no longer managing one of the best teams in the world, but he has adjusted to his surroundings well. Tottenham supporters have been disappointed that they haven’t been active in the transfer market this summer, but stability can make a team even more dangerous. The Newcastle manager clearly feels this is the case.

The supporters are the main reason that Benitez remains as manager of the football club. He has a great rapport with them and he has made sure to emphasises their importance for the coming season.

“This city deserves a team in the Premier League. The fans are behind the team, the city is behind the team, and that’s massive,”

“Every single game we had 52,000 fans last year, and the away support was amazing, so we have everything. Now we have to be sure that we can perform.”

Benitez knows that the supporters can become a real asset for the team this season. If he can get them to offer unwavering support, even when things are going great on the pitch, St James’ Park can become a fortress. No team will want to go away to Newcastle if the stadium is rocking and this weekend will be an indicator of how good the atmosphere will be this season.

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

English Premier League

Paul Dummett’s Wales snub will please Newcastle United fans

The Welshman turned down an international call-up this week.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Paul Dummett has been one of the standout players for Newcastle United this season and his performances haven’t passed Ryan Giggs by.

The new Wales National Team manager has admitted that he has spoken to the left-back with a view to a return to the squad. The Chronicle reported the following quotes:

“I had a conversation with Paul Dummett, because he hasn’t been in the last few squads, and he just felt that it wasn’t the right time to come back.

“He wanted to concentrate on his Newcastle career which I have to respect, and we move on.

“He (Dummett) said that he wanted to concentrate on Newcastle’s relegation fight so I have to respect that at the moment. In the future we will wait and see.”

That will be music to the ears of Newcastle supporters and Rafa Benitez, as Dummett has emerged as a key player for the team since his return from injury.

This season in the Premier League, the Magpies have conceded only 13 times in the 12 matches that the 26-year-old has started.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

That underlines how effective he has been and his importance to the team’s chances of staying in the top-flight.

Although he may not be the most exciting player to watch, Dummett is very good at carrying out a role for the team and it is no surprise that he has become one of Benitez’s most trusted lieutenants.

The Spanish manager enjoys to coach players that listen and carry out his instructions to the letter and his left-back certainly fits under that description.

A quick look at the stats shows how rounded Dummett is as a defender.

He averages 2.83 ball recoveries, 0.78 blocks and 6.85 clearances per ninety minutes. Meanwhile, he is very good in the air as shown by his aerial duels win rate of 57.41%.

He was once a scapegoat for Newcastle supporters and the focus of anger when things weren’t going well. The reason for that was his lack of technical skill, which would make him stand out on the pitch.

However, that side of his game has developed and he is now serviceable in possession. Dummett isn’t going to be cutting sides open with his attacking threat down the left, but he understands his own limitations and that has seen him improve as a player.

The 26-year-old has been part of Wales squads in the past, but he has only played once for his country and his lack of game-time may be a reason why he stepped away from the international arena.

(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images)

Last summer, Newcastle issued a statement to explain why Dummett withdrew from the squad for the World Cup qualifier against Serbia, which featured the following quote:

“After a gruelling campaign with the Magpies, in which he played through the pain barrier on several occasions, 25-year-old Dummett is keen to recharge his batteries and spend time with his family and friends in order to ensure he is at peak form and fitness for his hometown team’s return to the Premier League and what promises to be a big campaign for both him and the club.

“He has been supported in his decision by Newcastle boss Rafa Benítez. 

“However, Dummett – who has represented his country from youth level all the way to the senior team – has not closed the door on his international career and hopes to represent the Dragons again in the future.”

It is clear that Newcastle is the priority for Dummett, but it is interesting that he refused to close the door on Wales last summer.

A managerial change since then may lead to further opportunities for the left-back and it is easy to see why Giggs has already reached out to him.

The Newcastle full-back has developed into a Premier League calibre player under Benitez and he will offer an upgrade on the options currently in the Wales squad.

For him, as a player, it may be beneficial to play international football and gain experience at the highest level. Although he didn’t agree to come back at this time, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t return to the fold in the near future. Both parties would benefit from that.

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Newcastle United

Newcastle United fans are livid at Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad

Newcastle fans cannot believe Jonjo Shelvey is not in the England squad.



Gareth Southgate announced his latest England squad earlier today and for Newcastle United fans it was not well received. Newcastle fans were left dumbfounded by the absence of Jonjo Shelvey and Jamaal Lascelles.

Both players have been in good form for Rafa Benitez’s side this season but obviously not enough to make the England team.

The main reason why Newcastle fans have been so frustrated at the omission of the pair revolves around the players who have actually been called up by Southgate.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

In particular, not many fans can understand how Jake Livermore gets the nod ahead of the Shelvey. Livermore has had a poor season with Premier League basement club West Brom and recently made headlines for the wrong reasons. He was one of several West Brom players reprimanded for stealing a taxi in Barcelona last month. Shelvey has outperformed the West Brom player throughout the campaign.

Southgate also gave debut call-ups to Burnley defender James Tarkowski and Swansea City centre-back Alfie Mawson. Their inclusion ahead of Newcastle captain also baffled many fans at St James’ Park. Whilst Tarkowski and Mawson have both had good seasons, it is hard to see how either has bettered Lascelles throughout the campaign.

Southgate has decided to experiment with that pair entering the fray, but for many, the Newcastle players were far more deserving.

(Photo by Matthew Ashton/Getty Images)

Such sentiment is not reserved for just Newcastle fans either, with the majority of fans believing both Newcastle players deserved a chance.

This was seemingly both players last chance to make the England squad for the World Cup in the summer.

Here is some of the best reaction to the news on Twitter…

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Newcastle United

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley must release funds to Kenedy this summer

The forward scored twice in the Magpie’s weekend victory over Southampton.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle United took a huge step to safety this past weekend thanks to on-loan winger Kenedy who scored a brace against Southampton. The rest of the results at the bottom went for the Magpies and optimism about their chances increased significantly.

There will be nobody on Tyneside getting too complacent, not least Rafael Benitez, but the manager could be forgiven for having one eye on the summer.

It promises to be a crucial one for the club as it remains on the market, while there will be more rumours about the future of Benitez. There has been friction between the board and the manager in recent windows, which will come into focus again this summer.

Regardless of his desire to sell the club, Mike Ashley needs to appreciate the worth of his manager and make sure that his biggest asset remains at St James’ Park.

A quick way to do that this summer will be to sign Kenedy on a permanent deal from Chelsea. The Mirror report that the winger will be available for £15 million and that would be a great price for a player with his quality. He has immediately improved Newcastle since joining and provided some much-needed quality in the final third.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

During his first six matches, he has scored twice and got one assist. Considering Newcastle’s struggles in the final third throughout this season, Kenedy has provided end product that had previously been lacking. It is too soon to judge him fully, but he has come in and made an impact straight away in a team fighting relegation. That shows both talent and a good mentality.

The Magpies have been a working progress under Benitez this season. Their underlying numbers are good, but they have lacked the quality to produce the results required. Since Kenedy arrived, they have lost only one of their six Premier League matches and that came against an in-form Liverpool team.

As stated above, it is early days for the Brazilian at St James’ Park, but his attacking contributions have been impressive. The 22-year-old is currently averaging 1.02 chances created and 2.86 attempted shots per ninety minutes.

He hasn’t been perfect, with his decision making being questionable at times. However, he has stood out as one of the more talented players in the team and for that reason, he needs to be signed on a permanent deal.

Throughout his tenure as Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley has been reluctant to spend big money and his penny pinching has only got worse as his desire to sell has increased. Since promotion to the Premier League, the club has spent just under £40 million, which isn’t enough to compete with the majority of clubs in the top-flight.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

That needs to change as he needs to make sure Benitez doesn’t leave the club this summer, as it would derail any potential takeover. It is clear that the Newcastle manager would like to bring Kenedy to the club on a permanent basis and if Ashley can make that happen, it will go a long way to protecting his investment.

At the age of 22, there is potential for a big profit in the future, as Kenedy would surely develop on Tyneside under Benitez. The money in the modern game has become silly, but at £15 million, Kenedy would represent value.

He has already emerged as a key player for Newcastle and his importance will increase with game-time. This is a deal that Mike Ashley simply must make happen.

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