Rafa Benitez reveals why he left out fit Chancel Mbemba

Chancel Mbemba
Chancel Mbemba

Rafa Benitez has revealed why Chancel Mbemba was not involved against Aston Villa.

Mbemba didn’t even make the bench at Villa Park on Saturday, where Newcastle United were held to a 1-1 draw.

Benitez pair Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark in central defence.

And United’s manager opted to name former Blackburn Rovers captain Grant Hanley on the bench.

Benitez felt he might need Hanley’s extra height late in the Championship game.

Hanley, however, was not sent on late in the game when Newcastle were defending their one-goal lead.

And Aaron Tshibola headed an 88th-minute equaliser for Villa at the far post.

Asked about Mbemba, Benitez said: “He was fine.

“I thought for maybe these kind of games Hanley could help in the last minutes, but I did not want to make a change in the last minute because we were defending more or less and to put another player, another defender, would be to invite them to continue attacking.

“I thought we could create something on the counter-attack, but that was not the case.

“To have Hanley on the bench instead of Mbemba was because the size of him is strong. I wanted to have another option just in case.”

Meanwhile, Benitez insisted he would not make a kneejerk reaction to the result.

Newcastle – who led through a Tommy Elphick own goal – failed to convert their first-half chances at Villa Park.

“If I decide to change players, it is not because someone has made a mistake or missed a chance,” said Benitez.

“Especially with the strikers. It is because they have to do a job.

“This was a game for (Dwight) Gayle. We have seen it was a game for him because he had a lot of chances.

“Maybe the next one is for him, or maybe Mitro (Aleksandar Mitrovic), or maybe (Daryl) Murphy.

“I think it is not a question of if they miss a chance then you have to change it.

“It is a question of if they work hard for the team then the strikers will score goals because they are good enough.”