Read Rafa Benitez’s full and passionate defence of his tactics at Newcastle after a week of criticism

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez has again defended his tactics and team selection at Newcastle United in the wake of the club’s Carabao Cup exit.

Benitez’s side were knocked out of the competition by Championship club Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night.

The cup defeat followed a home loss to Chelsea in the Premier League.

A number of TV pundits criticised Benitez’s tactics in the game – he fielded a five-man defence – and there was renewed criticism after the Forest match.

However, United’s manager – who had to sell to buy this summer while other teams spent tens of millions of pounds – has explained why he was cautious against Chelsea and made seven changes for the cup.

“I will say something that some people don’t want to understand,” said Benitez, speaking ahead of tomorrow night’s game against Premier League champions Manchester City.

You have to have ambition, but you have to be realistic. So the best way for us to get results and to achieve what we want to achieve, and the main thing is to stay in the Premier League at the moment, is to be realistic and manage expectations.

Rafa Benitez

“You have to have ambition, but you have to be realistic. So the best way for us to get results and to achieve what we want to achieve, and the main thing is to stay in the Premier League at the moment, is to be realistic and manage expectations.

“I can come here and say ‘oh, we will attack and play three strikers’, and everybody will be happy and the fans will say fantastic and afterwards you can lose 6-0.

“We have to be realistic and manage expectations and that is the best way for us as a football club to achieve what we want to achieve and that is to get enough points to stay in the Premier League.

“Nobody was expecting that we could finish 10th last year. I remember maybe 80% of all the pundits at the beginning saying that Newcastle would be relegated. Why? Because in theory it could be like that.

“This year will be even more difficult, because Wolves and Fulham have spent a lot of money, not just this year but also in the past, so they have very good players.

“Last year You had Brighton, Huddersfield and Newcastle United not spending too much. Now you have two teams who have even promoted spending a lot of money. Ssee the table now and look at Cardiff and Huddersfield – we are around this league.

“Does that mean we are not ambitious? We’re really ambitious. But we’re realistic and we have experience. What we have to achieve is to stay in the Premier League. How do we achieve it? By getting results.

“We will try to play nice and good football if we can and if we cannot some games we have to manage. And then because we did well last year, it’s one way. It doesn’t mean we have to play that way every time.

“It doesn’t mean that we always have to be like that. It means its the best way for us to do it as a club.

“We want to achieve something that is so massive and so important to the city, which is to stay in the Premier League and we need to find a way to do it as professionals.

“Nobody knows our players as well as us. I have a lot of confidence in them and I’m really proud of them, but to be realistic doesn’t mean you don’t have ambition.”

Asked if the criticism was unfair, Benitez added: “I doesn’t matter what I feel. My job is to make sure my team can get a result.

“Different people will have different ideas, but we proved that we were right last year. With this team, with the resources we have, with the players we have, we finished 10th and this is a fantastic achievement and now we will try to do that.

“The main target is to achieve what we want to achieve and the way to do it is another thing.

“People say ‘do it this way, it would be much better’, but these people don’t know my players, these people don’t know my team or what is going on.

“We achieved something. I’m really proud of my players. They’re a very good group and they work really hard, but we’re realistic, so we know where we are and what we have.

“The fans understand that. You have to get results and you have to do it in the best way possible. If you spend £500million, £300million, £200million, I understand that you can criticise.

“But we didn’t do that. We made a profit. We didn’t spend £200million. Not £100million. So we have to maximise the resources that we have.”