Newcastle United briefing: World-class coach visits club, Mikel Merino's 'perfect' start

Mikel Merino
Mikel Merino

Eddie Jones has paid a visit to Newcastle United – to inspire the club's next generation.

England's rugby union head coach visit the club's Academy to speak to coaches, players and parents this week.

Jones was at Little Benton to "share his experiences from an illustrious career and giving advice to Academy youngsters on succeeding in professional sport", according to the club.

We also have an interview with midfielder Mikel Merino, who has been outstanding in United's three-game winning run.

And Christian Atsu – who scored his first Premier League goal in Saturday's 2-1 win over Stoke – has been talking about the impact Rafa Benitez has had on his game.

Here's your daily briefing:

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Keeping up with the Joneses

Jones visited Newcastle's Academy to pass on some of his knowledge.

"I'm very impressed with the Academy," said the 57-year-old told NUFC TV. "This is one of the greatest football club's in England, so it's a lovely opportunity to be here.

"I'm going to chat to some of the coaches and the parents and the players about experiences of coaching.

Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

"We can also learn. Every time you come to an organisation, you learn something, so it's a great opportunity to learn and improve.

"There are things in football that we can learn from, and possibly vice-versa".

Comfortable

Merino, on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund, has quickly adjusted to Premier League football.

Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie

Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie

The 21-year-old is keeping Jonjo Shelvey, outstanding in the first half of Newcastle's Championship-winning season, out of Rafa Benitez's starting XI.

And Merino is enjoying his time on Tyneside.

“Of course, I would have taken this first month,” said Merino.

“It would have been perfect if we’d won all the matches, but the way we are playing, the way the team thinks about playing football, the penetration and concentration – all these things are perfect at the moment.

“I’m really, really happy to be here, enjoying every training and every match.”

Read the full interview here.

Big influence

Atsu arrived in England four years ago.

But the winger, signed from Chelsea in the summer, is only now playing week in, week out in the Premier League.

And that's down to Benitez, who took him on loan last season.

Atsu has spoken about his first top-flight goal – and the work Benitez has done to improve him.

"Rafa's always telling me to use my speed to run behind the defence if I want to assist or score goals," said the Ghana international. "Ritchie gave me a great ball, and I ran behind the defence. It was a great finish."

Meanwhile, Newcastle made their point against Brighton and Hove Albion last night ahead of Sunday's first-team meeting at the Amex Stadium.