Rafa Benitez: Keeping Newcastle United squad happy is “impossible”

Newcastle Uniteds Jack Colback is one of a number of players that have had to bide their time for minutes on the pitch.
Newcastle Uniteds Jack Colback is one of a number of players that have had to bide their time for minutes on the pitch.

Rafa Benitez admits it’s impossible to keep every member of his Newcastle United squad happy.

But the Spaniard does believe the task is made much easier when the Magpies are winning and edging closer towards the top of the Championship table.

United have a 27-man senior squad at St James’ Park and so far this season a number of experienced players, as well as a host of summer arrivals, have been unable to get much gametime.

The likes of Cheick Tiote, who has been linked with a move the Middle East this month, and Aleksandar Mitrovic have found their first-team chances limited this season.

Players such Ayoze Perez, Jack Colback and Chancel Mbemba, all shoe ins to the starting XI last season, have also had to do their time on the substitutes bench.

Even Benitez’s own signings – Grant Hanley, Daryl Murphy, Achraf Lazaar and Christian Atsu – have not been exempt from a lack of action.

While he attempts to strike a fine balance in his squad, Benitez accepts he will never be able to keep every player happy.

“We have 27 players. It is impossible to have 27 players who are happy if they do not play,” he said.

“So now at this stage of the season we are doing well and everything is fine but if you carry on and some players don’t play too much they will not be happy.

“But I do not want players who are happy not to be playing.

“It is very difficult to keep everyone happy if you are not winning.

“If you are winning, even if you win this competition or that, it is not true that the players are as happy as if they were playing.

“They are happy because they are winning but they want to play.”

Some players are easier to keep happy than others.

And the situation is one that experienced Benitez accepts.

But while it is his task to pick the strongest possible team week-in, week-out, he says it is the players jobs to make that decision as hard as possible.

“What I want is players who are competing with a positive competition on the pitch in every game and every training session to give me a decision to make,” he said.

“After it depends how mature they are and what the ambitions of the player are.

“Some will understand that another player is better than them and understand.

“Some will think they are young and have time to develop and will be patient. But some will say they want to play and say they cannot stay here.”