Don't panic! Rafa Benitez has a message for his Newcastle players

Rafa Benitez says his Newcastle United side must learn to stay calm '“ after they 'panicked' and threw away two points.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 26th February 2018, 5:00 am
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez.
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez.

Bournemouth came from two goals down at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday to claim a point from a 2-2 draw.

Had Newcastle held on, they would have ended the weekend in 11th place.

As it was, United ended the weekend 15th in the Premier League – and just two points above the relegation zone.

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Benitez, having seen his side control the game for 70 minutes, was frustrated at the result.

After Ayoze Perez and Jonjo Shelvey missed chances to put Newcastle 3-0 up, Adam Smith pulled a goal back for Bournemouth.

And ex-United midfielder Dan Gosling netted an 89th-minute equaliser.

“It’s very tight down there, and every moment is important. We’ve been working so hard for the whole of the season, and there have been a few games now where we were very close to winning, but we drew or we lost.

“That’s not fair, but it’s the way that it is. That’s why it’s so important when you’re playing a game like this, and you’re winning 2-0, that you manage the situation and make sure you win.

“It’s a pity we couldn’t do that, but this is what we have.

“You have to give credit to our players, because they’re working so hard, but sometimes things like this can happen, and you have to deal with it well.

“We were doing well on the counter-attack, but we had a couple of chances, and you have to score.

“After that, we made mistakes. The first goal was very easy for them, and for the second goal, it was another cross and they had two players free in the box.”

Benitez felt a lack of “experience” told at the Vitality Stadium.

“The team has played a lot of good games in terms of organisation and understanding,” said Newcastle’s manager.

“There have been times where we have lacked a bit of quality and experience in the final third, and we haven’t always managed things well enough.

“But that’s what happens when you’re at this level and you play against very good players.

“Our team is a young team, and we need a little bit more experience in how to manage situations like this.

“The team was doing well against Manchester United, but we have done that in quite a few games and we did again in the first half here.

“We’ve had situations where we’ve created chances, but we have missed out because of a lack of quality or experience.

“It can happen in football, and the main thing is to create the chances. (Christian) Atsu played the ball (to Shelvey), and everyone was thinking ‘goal’.

“That would have been it, finished. But then after that we conceded the goal, and then we have to manage the situation that followed much better.”

Benitez believes his team “panicked” in the final few minutes.

“When you have control and miss a chance, then concede a goal, you are panicking,” said Benitez.

“We have to learn how to deal with that. We need to have the composure to carry on doing what we were doing earlier in the game.

“You have to give credit to them, because they were pushing and they have strong players with pace.

“But we just had to be better with the way we defended. A couple of players were a little bit tired, so we had to make the substitutions to have fresh legs.”