Rafa Benitez: Dwight Gayle is dangerous even when he doesn’t score

Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle
Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle

Rafa Benitez says Dwight Gayle is wreaking havoc for Newcastle United – even when he doesn’t find the net.

Gayle is the club’s leading scorer with 11 goals.

But the striker didn’t find the net in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Ipswich Town.

Ayoze Perez netted twice, and Matt Ritchie also scored, in a victory which saw the club go three points clear at the top of the Championship.

Gayle had scored both Newcastle’s goals in last week’s 2-0 in over Barnsley.

However, United manager Benitez feels teams leave themselves vulnerable if they concentrate too much on stopping Gayle.

Asked if it was important for his team to share the goals around the team, Benitez said: “Yes, it’s important for the team, because you have more players who can score and then the opponents don’t know who to mark and deal with.

“If only Gayle is scoring, then they will think it is easier to focus marking him because then they will think we will not score.

“But we have different players who can score goals, so this makes it more difficult for them.

“Also, for the confidence of the team, it’s good to have different options and they can trust different players to score goals.”

Newcastle take on Preston North End – who beat second-placed Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday – in the EFL Cup tomorrow night and visit Deepdale on Saturday for a Championship fixture.

And Benitez has again admitted that one of his biggest challenges is ensuring there is no complacency in his dressing room.

One way Benitez – who has two players for every position – is doing this is by his team selection.

“Normally when you are progressing, maybe you don’t need to do that (guard against complacency),” said Benitez.

“But when you are top of the table and you are doing well, you have to be careful and make sure that you don’t have over-confidence or complacency.

“You can tell the players, though, and still sometimes you cannot control everything.

“They need to be on their toes, and if they know that if they don’t perform well, someone else will be there. So I think this positive competition is the key to keep the momentum and keep the team winning.”