Rafa Benitez sticks to his ‘clear vision’ for Newcastle

Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid
Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid

Rafa Benitez says his Newcastle United side need to develop a “ruthless” streak.

Benitez’s team have lost two of their last three games.

Ruthless. It’s more what I am thinking. We must continue creating the same chances, even more too, but it’s difficult to say when you’re the top scorers to criticise too much.

Rafa Benitez

And Monday’s 1-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers saw Brighton and Hove Albion go top of the Championship.

The result promoted some fans to question Benitez’s tactics and team selection.

Newcastle, the Championship’s top scorers, have missed the creativity of suspended midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who will also sit out this afternoon’s FA Cup tie against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s.

But United manager Benitez doesn’t think there has been much wrong with his team’s recent performances, though he was disappointed at the manner of his side’s Boxing Day defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

Asked if his team needed to be more “streetwise”, Benitez said: “Ruthless. It’s more what I am thinking.

“We have to be more clinical, and when we have chances take them.

“Against Blackburn and Sheffield, we needed to score. Against Sheffield, we didn’t play at the level I thought, but still we had three chances before they had one.”

Newcastle were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Hull City in late November.

“Hull was the same,” added Benitez. “Blackburn away we should have won too.

“We must continue creating the same chances, even more too, but it’s difficult to say when you’re the top scorers to criticise too much.”

Benitez, one of Europe’s most experienced and respected coaches, has a “clear vision” of how he wants his team to play.

“I am being honest, I have not been reading the Press these days,” said Benitez.

“I know if we lose people will say things.

“We know what we need to do as professionals. The feelings of the fans is really important, but I still have to make decisions.

“I could play three strikers, and fans will be saying ‘oh, it’s fantastic offensive football’. But then we could be conceding goals all of the time.

“I have to do what I have to do. I know the players, I see them in every training session and I know the atmosphere.

“We are in a very good place with a very good mood and a clear vision about what we want to do.

“The (transfer) window is open. We have to keep an eye on players and see who can give us some balance.

“If we find these players, perfect.

“If we cannot, then still we have some time and we have to make sure not to make a mistake.

“Even with all the information you can make a mistake because you sign a player who has some problems at home or whatever.

“We signed (Daryl) Murphy in the summer.

“He has scored a lot of goals in the Championship, and has experience, and I am really pleased with him.

“But he is not playing because (Dwight) Gayle is doing so well.

“It doesn’t mean signing Murphy was a mistake. He just needs to wait, and it’s better to have two players than just one.”

Meanwhile, Benitez feels United will be better able to challenge for the FA Cup in fufure seasons.

Asked about winning trophies at Newcastle, he said: “It’s a tricky question, because we are in the FA Cup and we have to get further.

“Obviously, I want to win trophies. I want to get promoted and I want to win as many games as we can.

“It is a question of time. It’s not that I want to do it so I can do it now. No, we need some time.”