Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Benitez's Approach Is Making a Difference; A Pragmatic Approach Can Make a Difference

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Benitez's Approach Is Making a Difference; A Pragmatic Approach Can Make a Difference

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS WAUGH Newcastle United writer chris.waugh@reachplc.com @CHRISDHWAUGH

NEWCASTLE United's goal difference is worth an "extra point" to the Magpies - and Rafa Benitez believes he has been vindicated for his defensive approach earlier in the campaign. The United manager received criticism from some pundits for his team sitting deep against Chelsea at St James' Park and Manchester City at the Etihad in matches Newcastle ended up losing 2-1. Given United's failure to win any of their opening 10 matches, some commentators suggested the Spaniard's negative tactics had hampered his side.

However, after enduring a torrid opening three months of the campaign, Newcastle have responded with a perfect November - claiming three successive victories over Watford, AFC Bournemouth and Burnley. Those results have helped lift the Magpies from the foot of the table up to 13th, Newcastle above West Ham United - who they face at St James' Park on Saturday - on goal difference alone.

In fact, despite having lost seven matches this season, Newcastle have only been defeated by a margin in excess of one goal once.

Despite having scored just 11 goals in 13 games, the Magpies have only conceded 16 times.

Their goal difference of -5 is the joint-best of the bottom nine sides in the top flight - and is significantly better than that of some of their relegation rivals.

Benitez has revealed that part of his reasoning behind ensuring Newcastle avoid heavy defeats is due to research he and his staff carried out ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.

Historically, defensively-strong sides have rarely been relegated - and, come the final day of the season, goal difference can prove to be the difference between staying in the Premier League or being demoted.

Last term, for example, Newcastle finished 10th - despite having the same points tally as Bournemouth and West Ham - due to their superior goal difference.

This season, given just four points separate the bot-Turn to Page 54 fRoM baCK PaGE tom eight teams in the top flight, goal difference could even be the factor which keeps Newcastle. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.