Rafa Benitez has a blunt message for critics of Newcastle’s defensive tactics against Man City

Rafa Benitez issues instructions in the midweek defeat to Manchester City. Picture by Frank Reid
Rafa Benitez issues instructions in the midweek defeat to Manchester City. Picture by Frank Reid

Rafa Benitez says he won’t be afraid to adapt similarly defensive tactics after being criticised for his approach to Manchester City’s visit to St James’s Park.

Newcastle United were beaten 1-0 by the runaway Premier League leaders on Wednesday night.

I will do what I have to do to win for my team. That’s it.

Rafa Benitez

TV pundits Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville were critical of Benitez’s tactics in the game, which was decided by a first-half goal from Raheem Sterling. Neville said: “There’s defending, and there’s showing absolutely no ambition whatsoever.”

And Carragher added: “Not just Newcastle, but the Premier League in general, when they come up against the top six, certainly at home, it’s becoming embarrassing.”

However, Newcastle, unlike City’s previous three league opponents, were in the game until the final whistle.

Asked if the criticism would stop him doing it again, manager Benitez said: “No. I will do what I have to do to win for my team. That’s it.”

Former Manchester United defender Neville had an ill-fated spell in charge of Benitez’s former club, Valencia.

Neville returned to TV work after leaving his post at the Mestalla Stadium last year. Benitez, Valencia’s most successful manager, brushed off Neville’s comments.

Asked if it was too easy to be critical from a TV studio, Benitez said: “I’ll not waste too much time on that. (In Spain and Italy), you have three, four pundits, you have two ex-players or managers or whatever, and an ex-referee, and they have to give an opinion.

“Then after, you go to another TV and they have another three and they have to ask other questions, then another three, so it’s impossible.

“They have to say something because they need the audience, and then you have to understand they are doing a job that is totally different.

“They don’t take any responsibility, and they can make mistakes and the day after, it doesn’t matter.

“You’re a manager, you have a group of players, you have fans, the city, responsibility and then you make the decisions you have to make to win games.”