Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Can Rafa Steady the Ship or Is It Just Rearranging Deckchairs on Titanic?

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Can Rafa Steady the Ship or Is It Just Rearranging Deckchairs on Titanic?

Article excerpt

Byline: Lee Ryder Chief Sports Writer twitter: @lee_ryder

NEWCASTLE United have just seven games left to save their Premier League lives.

However, on the basis of what fans have been watching all season, even a double act of Harry Houdini and David Blaine would struggle to sort this sorry lot out.

But Rafa Benitez is a man who must continue to believe.

Although, how much more can the Spaniard actually change? It's the same crop of players who have failed to pull their fingers out all season.

Is it a case of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? It certainly seems that way, but Benitez has a week to attempt to lift his players and end Newcastle's worst run of form away from since 1977.

SO WHAT EXACTLY CAN BENITEZ CHANGE IN TERMS OF SELECTION? Fabricio Coloccini should be back from a calf injury and will be likely to partner Chancel Mbemba at Southampton.

The ex-Real Madrid boss will probably drop Steven Taylor after a poor show at Norwich.

Paul Dummett will offer an option at leftback, meaning it could be a muchchanged back four. Benitez is likely to start Aleksandar Mitrovic to boost his attack after his two goals off the bench on Saturday.

But after yet another shocking away performance from Gini Wijnaldum, he must decide whether to stick with the Dutchman at Southampton.

Siem de Jong is surely knocking on the door for a start.

WILL BENITEZ CHANGE FORMATION OR TACTICS AT SOUTHAMPTON? The Newcastle boss knows that the Premier League is all about horses for courses.

The Saints operate with a five-man defence and it could take some breaking down - especially with Fraser Forster also certain to be playing out of his skin to deny his old club.

Benitez can't afford to go gung-ho on the south coast with dangerous stars like Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane on the loose. …

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