"I think we deserved more.
"The team worked hard against a very
good side. We conceded and reacted well, and then went a goal behind again and
showed good fight.
"We had to give something to the
players that have been training for one month so it was the right thing to do.
Now we have more time, and everybody has to fight for their place.
"You cannot complain about Joselu's work rate, and he got a goal which
helped the team.
"We tried to change something and
then we had a chance when (Salomon) Rondon hit the crossbar, but you
can see the new players will need some time to settle and understand their
"We were pushing them all the way. We were fighting until the end and we
had some chances, especially in the second half against a good team.
"You could feel the fans had the
belief that we could do something, so it was a pity.
"It's always important for the
strikers to score. When you bring in new players it increases the competition,
which was the idea.
"Also you can see the new players
will need some time to understand their team-mates and what we want them to do
but at least we have the competition.
"The difference in quality is what makes the difference. But my team didn’t
give up and that’s a positive thing for the future.
"We made mistakes against very good players and it is difficult to stop
them because of the way they pass the ball and move around the pitch.
"It is not easy when that have that quality, but we had chances to draw."
About Yedlin's injury:
"I don't really know. We'll have to wait and the doctor has to assess the
injury. We will need some time to know exactly.
"We have our squad and if we do not have injuries we can manage. To lose
Lejeune was not ideal and we will have to see what happens with DeAndre.
"Positions we were looking at in defence were the centre-back and
the left full-back. But we couldn’t find the left full-back we were looking
"Of course, Javier Manquillo can play on either side but he is a
right footer so we wanted to sign someone with experience in the Premier
League. Is it ideal? No.”
About Ritchie's petulant reaction to being withdrawn:
"It is important to try to change things when you are not winning.
"I thought we needed a little bit of good movement between the
lines and maybe someone who could make the right passes to get us into
"I thought Atsu might give us some pace. It was not the right thing
in the end because we didn't get a goal, but you have to be able to compete.
If the reaction is to work harder, that is perfect."
NUFC statement, Friday: co-signed by Lee Charnley, Rafa Benitez and
As the transfer window closes and attentions turn to the start of the
season, we wanted to make this joint statement, on behalf of everyone at the
Doing good business in a transfer window is about ending the window
clearly stronger than when you started and we believe we have done this. The
view we all share is that we have a better squad now than the one that
finished tenth last season and all involved have worked tirelessly to make
Collectively, we must extend praise to Steve Nickson and his recruitment
team. Their operations are year-round, but they have worked day and night in
recent months to support efforts to enhance the squad.
We are all excited about the seven players who have joined us this
summer. Their combined experience in the Premier League and at an
international level – with three of them appearing at this summer’s World
Cup for their respective countries – cannot fail to strengthen us.
Martin Dúbravka and Kenedy have already proven themselves to be
fantastic players here and we are confident that Ki Sung-yueng, Fabian Schär,
Yoshinori Muto, Salomón Rondón and Federico Fernandez will be excellent
additions to the dressing room.
Given our finishing position last season, we already had a team of
players who were more than capable of performing well in the Premier League.
They have shown heart, guts and determination and the inference that they are
‘Championship’ players and not good enough is unfair and untrue. The
players all believe in themselves and in the quality of the squad, and we all
believe in the players.
Now, it’s about all of us pulling in the same direction, for the good
of the club. This came through strongly in a recent positive call between our
owner and senior members of the squad, who agreed that better dialogue going
forward will benefit all parties and is in the best interests of the club.
With the transfer window now closed, the focus should be on unity and
getting behind the efforts on the pitch.
We know our supporters are incredibly passionate and we know that
passion will be channeled into supporting the players we have in black and
white on Saturday, and every matchday thereafter home or away.
Lee Charnley, Managing Director
Rafa Benítez, Manager
Jamaal Lascelles, Captain
Asked about that club statement after the game, Rafa responded:
"I was trying to be positive to make sure that everybody sticks together.
If you read what we said, it is not something different to what I was saying (to
the press earlier the same day).
"We have finished the transfer window, we have to concentrate on
doing the right things for the club and the team."
Pressed on whether the squad is ‘without doubt’ stronger after this
"I want to say that the players we have brought in are good
players. That is my thought.
"I want to support my players and give them the confidence and the
belief that they can do it.”
outcome may have been the same as a year ago, but this year's clash of the
Magpies and Cockerels on Tyneside was somewhat less calamitous than in 2017.
Rafa Benitez may have begun another season with a defeat, if nothing else
though had the solace of his side score a goal and avoiding red cards this
However, they failed to end the match with a full complement of players, a knee
injury forcing DeAndre Yedlin off with all three substitutes used.
Two of those replacements were debutants; Salomon Rondon and Yoshinori Muto
making their bow as Rafa rang the changes, having named a starting selection
entirely composed of players who were at the club last season.
Blue skies greeted the green-clad visitors and they soon went ahead, goal
line technology confirming that Jan
Vertonghen's eighth minute header had crossed the line at the Gallowgate End.
From their first meaningful attack though
Newcastle drew level, Joselu meeting Matt Ritchie's right wing centre with a
glancing header from close range.
The third headed effort of the afternoon proved to be the most significant
though, Dele Alli getting on the end of Serge Aurier's superb right wing cross on 18
United struggled to regain parity again during the rest of the first half but
then came mighty close thanks to an improved showing after the break - Mo Diame
rattling a post and Kenedy foiled by Gugo Lloris when clean through after a
splendid defence-splitting pass from Joselu.
Home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka wasn't to blame for either Spurs goal,
but by his standards had an average game and struggled with his distribution.
There was nothing wrong with his reflexes though on 56 minutes, making an
instinctive block to deny old boy Moussa Sissoko from close range.
At the other end, Lloris similarly excelled when blocking an Ayoze Perez
the near post after a corner kick caused momentary confusion in the box.
United continued to look for what would have been a deserved equaliser in the
closing stages, but aside from Rondon's 85th minute shot deflecting off Vertonghen and
then the crossbar, they failed to seriously trouble the World Cup-winning
custodian during the final
Playing against his former side, Yedlin went to ground chasing a through ball and the lull for him to have treatment on his knee
as added time began saw our forward momentum ebb away.
Sadly, that injury provided an all-too instant reminder that hoping to survive
a season without adequate cover is beyond optimistic - especially when they
play in black and white stripes (with unlucky white socks).
This was a familiar outcome for United, who now haven't taken maximum points from
any opening day fixture since beating Spurs here back in 2012.
With three of the seven summer signings yet to kick a ball competitively
the two who featured today at less than full pace, there's scope for
improvement and an expectation that we will be rather more incisive going
We'd ventured the theory that this was perhaps a good time to play Spurs after
their squad's mass participation in the latter stages of the World Cup and
there was a suggestion that they were running out of steam in the closing
stages. And although no equaliser arrived, we managed to give a side not dissimilar from
that which finished third in the table last season something to ponder.
The importance of clinching signings earlier in the window though is underlined by
our "work in progress" status and the fact that pre-season
manoeuvres didn't allow players to work on forming new partnerships. Five
nights in Portugal were great, dunno what the team got out of it....
The minutiae of our finances will continue to exercise many, as will a lack of clarity
over what exactly what the infamous "every penny generated" sound
bite amounts to in cash terms.
That is compounded by our declared fiscal policy of achieving best value by
paying up front - a stance that looks to have resulted in cash-strapped
Swansea City taking the £6m for Federico Fernandez rather than a higher
figure on the never never.
Conversely, that arrangement isn't adhered to for player sales, meaning that
only a down payment of £8-£10m on the Mitrovic sale has arrived so far, with
the balance to follow in instalments. That was also the case for today's
pantomime villain Moussa Sissoko though, so some money should be arriving in
our bank account any time now from Spurs.
As ever, we don't help ourselves - be it allowing the manager to bellyache to
his heart's content in pre-season or issuing self-congratulatory statements
before a ball is kicked. That the sentiments expressed therein were already
stated in harsher terms by the owner in his spat with a certain MP further
diluted whatever notional benefit was meant to have been gained.
That there's under-investment in both squad and facilities is beyond doubt -
at least when viewed through the prism of other clubs with a smaller profile
regularly eclipsing our record transfer fee and committing serious finance to
The contractual stand-off is one thing, but whoever Rafa Benitez is
replaced by next year will still benefit from better training facilities and
an academy that's fit for purpose.
Finance remains seemingly but the deals have to be "right" - the
business case for Jacob Murphy (England U21 international whose colleagues
values were increasing) powerful enough to see funds released (We may find out
next week however whether we signed the right brother.....)
Compare that to the club's reluctance to bet the farm on a permanent deal for
Salomon Rondon, 29 in a month's time and supposedly only willing to leave West
Brom permanently in return for signing a four year contract. And as for a
wheelbarrow load of money to re-sign a Crystal Palace winger who had it away
on his toes within seconds of our last relegation? No thanks.
Getting Rondon in on loan looks like a shrewd move and if he scores his quota
then we've got a tricky decision in 2019, but maybe a younger player with
some level of resale value would have been the right combination to open the
Shirebrook safe? It didn't work with Kenedy admittedly, but his rumoured £30m
sale price seems way beyond our wildest dreams - quite literally fantasy
The source of discontent remains not that the owner isn't pouring his own
wonga into the club or siphoning cash directly from the coffers, but that
we're prevented from maximising our revenues by the debt we're artificially
saddled with as a division of Sports Direct - and commercially hamstrung for
the same reason.
Add in people who should know better trying to score cheap points by linking
Ashley's £90m deal for House of Fraser with our transfer surplus and the
tiresome attempts of the "I like Mike" brigade on Sky and TalkSport
to tell us that black is (Jim) white and the endless space-filling noise
ultimately brings on madness.
Nonetheless, it's good to be back in the thick of it, and with a squad that is
certainly no worse than last season - although a golden chance has been missed
to break with a decade of tradition and actually try and progress to the point
of achieving something more than staying up.
And if nothing else, our personal window wish list was granted - having stated
in May that our three biggest transfer deals would be keeping hold of messrs
Lascelles, Ritchie and Shelvey, it's a relief to see them all still
Regardless of who else did or didn't come, their form and influence will once
again be pivotal.