As Newcastle sank to the bottom of the Premier League table on Saturday, a section of supporters began to do the inevitable: start blaming Rafa Benitez.
All managers have their detractors, even ones as loved as Benitez, but to blame him solely for Newcastle’s form shows a lot of ignorance.
Fans shouldn’t need to be reminded of the club’s failure to build in the summer or that Newcastle have already had to face Spurs, Man City, Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal this season.
But the Spaniard has seen his game plans fall short in the first nine matches of the season and things do look dire.
But what certain supporters need to ask themselves is this: Would getting rid of Benitez change anything?
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The answer is almost certainly no.
Benitez is still the man for Newcastle
It was only last season that Newcastle managed just one point in nine matches between October and December; a run of results even worse than this current one.
A late surge between February and April turned things around though and there’s no reason why Rafa cant do it again.
The players clearly respect Benitez highly and dismissing him would have a serious effect on their mentality.
Speaking to The Chronicle on Saturday, Jamaal Lascelles said of Benitez: “He wants us to play a certain way and if we can’t do that as players, it’s down to us… The gaffer can only deal with what he’s got.
“We’re playing good football, it’s just not happening for us. That will change.”
This statement echoes the view that the club’s failure to spend in the transfer window is the main reason for their current position.
But it also shows that the players have not given up on the club or their manager. That they have belief that things will get better.
It’s true that Newcastle seem to be lacking quality, but against Brighton it was clear that every player is still passionate and working hard.
This is perhaps though why some supporters have been quick to turn on Rafa. The effort is showing, but the results are not. Naturally people then start to question the tactics.
Rafa should not be free from criticism, and whatever you think of him, he got things wrong against Brighton.
But Benitez knows his team and what they are capable of. Although at times too defensive, he has been desperately unlucky not to pick up points in matches where we had no right to get any at all.
The next run of fixtures are crucial for Benitez. Not only does his team need wins, but he needs to cement his reputation.
It’s a lot of pressure for one man’s shoulders, but if anyone can save Newcastle, it’s Rafa Benitez.