Benitez ready for serious talks with Newcastle

Rafa Benitez said he had been swayed by Newcastle United's fans as he considers staying on at St James's Park.

Monday, 16th May 2016, 5:00 am
Rafa Benitez keeps an eye on Rolando Aarons

Benitez’s name was chanted by supporters throughout yesterday’s 5-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur - their last game before at least one season down in the Championship.

The 56-year-old – who met owner Mike Ashley for talks after the game – has made it clear that he will be guided by his head as well as his heart.

“I think it was a great atmosphere,” said Benitez. “I was expecting the fans to be behind the team and supporting me, but it has been really good and amazing and really positive.

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“I was open to talk, and now I am more open to talk. Hopefully, we will start analysing what is going on and what will be the future of Newcastle United and my future.”

The game was embarrassing for Tottenham, for so long the second-best team in the Premier League.

They were second-best yesterday, but it should be just as embarrassing for Newcastle.

How can a team which can play like this be relegated? Just how?

It was almost shameful.

Why did the club’s players turn it on when it mattered least?

Even on the back of a six-game unbeaten run, did they deserve the ovation they got at the final whistle?

So to the Championship.

Could Aleksander Mitrovic, like Andy Carroll did in 2009-10, spearhead a successful promotion campaign?

We saw the good, the bad and the ugly against Tottenham.

But the striker, unquestionably, would score goals in the Championship, though it will have to be from a standing start, as he will have to serve a four-game ban for his second-half dismissal for raking his studs down Kyle Walker’s shin.

The opening goal came in the 19th minute with Georginio Wijnaldum’s first goal since January.

Moussa Sissoko rolled the ball across the box to Mitrovic, who laid it off for Wijnaldum, who beat Lloris with a neat finish.

Six minutes before the interval, Mitrovic made it 2-0. Sissoko broke down the right and crossed for Mitrovic, who directed his header past Hugo Lloris at his near post.

Tottenham were marginally better after the break, and Erik Lamela somehow beat Karl Darlow at his near post with a thumping shot in the 60th minute.

After Mitrovic’s dismissal for his mindless lunge, Newcastle came back at Tottenham.

Sissoko, under pressure from Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen, went down, and Wijnaldum converted the resulting penalty.

Late goals from substitute Rolando Aarons and Daryl Janmaat, playing with a cast on his fractured hand, followed as United, driven on by the superb Andros Townsend, stretched the game.

Newcastle: Darlow, Janmaat, Taylor, Mbemba, Dummett, Tiote (Shelvey 62), Colback, Wijnaldum (Aarons 76), Sissoko (Sterry 84), Townsend, Mitrovic. Subs Not Used: Cisse, De Jong, Perez, Woodman. Sent Off: Mitrovic (67). Booked: Aarons. Goals: Wijnaldum 19, Mitrovic 39, Wijnaldum 73 pen, Aarons 85, Janmaat 86.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker (Chadli 71), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Mason (Carroll 46), Lamela, Eriksen, Son (Onomah 46), Kane. Subs Not Used: Rose, Vorm, N’Jie, Wimmer. Booked: Mason, Lamela. Goals: Lamela 60.

Att: 52,183 Ref: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).