'˜Best is yet to come from team', insists Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez
Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez insists the best is yet to come from his promotion chasing side, writes Liam Kennedy.
It’s fair to say the Magpies, who were hot favourites to win the title with the bookies in pre-season, are yet to really take the Championship by storm this season.
But despite only playing well in a handful of games Benitez’s side find themselves perfectly placed, just two places and three points off the top of the second tier table.
And the gaffer, assessing his players performance so far this campaign, admits he is satisfied with progress.
But he still sees room for improvement.
Benitez said: “I am quite happy, although still not 100 per cent satisfied because we are not at the top of the table.
“In terms of how things are going, I think we are going in the right direction.
“I probably sound like a broken record because I am saying this all the time, but I can still see room for improvement.”
“For me, that is quite a positive thing though. I can see that the team has to improve. A lot of things are going well, but there are also a lot of things that can still be a lot better.”
It is not by accident Benitez is aware of Newcastle’s areas in which they need to improve. It is strictly by design.
The meticulous gaffer revealed he has a detailed database of information, managed and analysed by his close group of trusted coaches at the club’s Benton training base.
And by using that information the coaches can pinpoint specific failings and subsequently tailor every training session to address any issues that may arise.
“We have a lot of information and we try to manage this information to put the strongest team on the pitch. We’re not improvising,” said Benitez.
“We also have our software – after every game you will see me taking notes, well it goes into the software.
“It’s about the strengths and weaknesses of the team in those games and we can return to it after 10 games and revisit it. We start working on that.
“After maybe ten games he will say ‘We need to improve the counter attack’ so we put on more sessions on that. But we don’t change after every game, we work in the longer term.
“The idea is that little-by-little we are improving things as we go along.”
Of course, the system, like any, is not without faults.
Benitez continued: “Maybe I’ll make a mistake, but we’ll only know after the game.
“People will see ‘(Matt)Ritchie isn’t playing!’ But I know (Christian) Atsu was playing well – then he does well and I look like a genius! But if he doesn’t, it’s ‘Oh no’.
“But people need to be reassured that we have a lot of information, we see them in training.
“For example, (DeAndre) Yedlin had problems in his ankles after tackles in the last two games. We have (Vurnon) Anita, who is playing well and training well so why not play him and give Yedlin a rest?”