Rafa Benitez reveals BIG difference on the training ground now transfer window is closed

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez.
Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez says he now has the full attention of his entire Newcastle United squad now the transfer window has closed.

Benitez moved on a number of players, on permanent deals and loans, in the summer months.

Before, when you have three, four or five players who do not know if they will be here or they will leave, it was hard to organise tactics and set-pieces.

Rafa Benitez

And the club also signed 12 players in the window.

Benitez now feels he has a more captive audience now the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum have left St James’s Park.

Newcastle, fourth in the Championship after three successive wins, take on Derby County at the iPro Stadium this evening.

Asked if he was “relieved” that the transfer window had closed, United manager Benitez said: “Not relief.

“But I think it was most important for us to know this was our squad, so we could start working on everything – set-pieces, tactics.

“Whatever you want to do, you know you’re squad and everybody can listen and understand.

“Before, when you have three, four or five players who do not know if they will be here or they will leave, it was hard to organise tactics and set-pieces.

“When you say ‘I will prepare a corner’, and you have three players that are thinking ‘I will leave’, so they don’t put any interest in.

“Now we know where we are. We will work the same way, but I think it will be more productive.”

The signings of Daryl Murphy, Christian Atsu and Achraf Lazaar – and the £30million sale of Sissoko – completed the club’s transfer business.

Newcastle also ended the window with a healthy £30million profit.

Asked if he now had the squad he wanted, Benitez said: “The business has been great.

“Could be better? Yes. Could be worse? For sure. But I think we did a good job all together.

“We have the players we want.

“In terms of the positions and characteristic of the players, it could be better, because we could have two here instead of one and another one who maybe you can play in this role.

“I was really pleased, because these players know what we want.

“We were looking for a striker to compete against the strikers. It had to be a big lad who could be a target man and who would be good in the air. We have that (in Murphy).

“We wanted a winger with pace. We have that (in Atsu). We got what we were looking for.

“I’m happy with the players we have, for sure. We had other targets that we couldn’t get because they wanted to stay in La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga or the Premier League.”

Sissoko only completed his move to Tottenham Hotspur in the final minutes of the transfer window.

The 27-year-old, a Euro 2016 finalist with France, had gone public with his desire to leave the club after the showpiece against Portugal.

And he got his wish on a dramatic deadline day which also saw Everton meet United’s revised valuation.

Benitez felt Sissoko’s move was “good business” for both clubs.

“I think he’s a good player,” said Benitez.

“Our fans, some of them, maybe will not agree, but my experience has been good and I wish him all the best.

“That is fine. I think it was good business for everyone, and hopefully for us.

“The players here are focused and ready for the battle.”

Benitez was reluctant to further discuss the sale of Sissoko, who did not feature for Newcastle in the Championship before his move.

“To be fair, I don’t want to be involved much talking about players that have gone,” he said.

“I have a lot of respect for them and their professionalism.

“I want to concentrate on us and our future.”

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino has spoken about Sissoko’s move to White Hart Lane.

“He is a player who can help us a lot,” said Pochettino. “Last season at Newcastle, and at the Euros, he was fantastic. It is another player who can help us.”

Meanwhile, Benitez feels it is too early to look at the Championship table.

“It’s too early to draw any conclusions yet,” he said.

“For example, Derby aren’t doing well at the moment, but for me they will be up at the top.

“Huddersfield are doing well and Fulham are doing well, but it’s still too early.

“We have to wait until maybe another month. We have to play against the top sides, so it will be interesting to see at the end of September.”