Rafa Benitez reveals why he had to '˜calm down' Cheick Tiote ahead of Newcastle's visit to Villa
Tiote has been a revelation under Benitez, whose side take on Aston Villa this afternoon.
The midfielder had been close to leaving St James’s Park in January – the club signed Henri Saivet to replace him – but a proposed move to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua broke down at the 11th hour.
And Tiote has since re-established himself as a key player for relegation-threatened Newcastle.
But United manager Benitez had to calm down tough-tackling Tiote ahead of the 17th-placed club’s visit to Villa Park.
“When I came he was injured,” said Benitez. “Then after one week he was training and since then every single training session has been impressive.
“He’s been doing really well and he is very, very competitive.
“It’s what you see in the games – in the training sessions it’s exactly the same.
“We try to calm him down, because he trains so hard. It’s difficult to stop him. It’s another positive.
“We had to say to him ‘look, enough’. But really he’s a very good example.
“He’s the kind of player you know you have to control a little bit, because he cannot be at this level in the whole season.
“Now we have just two weeks now, so it will be easier.
“But over a season, he’s someone you have to keep an eye on, because you don’t want him to lose energy. He is a positive.”