Rafa Benitez has the answers to the questions that are being asked of him at Newcastle United.
That’s the verdict of midfielder Jack Colback, who has spoken about Benitez’s meticulous attention to detail.
Newcastle have lost two of their last three Championship games and trail leaders Brighton by two points ahead of tomorrow’s game at Brentford.
Newcastle have struggled in the absence of suspended midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who has one match left to serve of a five-game ban.
And Benitez, for the first time since he joined the club in March last year, has had his decisions – and his tactics – questioned by some anxious supporters.
Ex-Sunderland midfielder Colback – who has started the last four matches – has revealed what is it like to be coached by Benitez, who often halts training to explain things if he feels the players aren’t grasping his tactics.
“That benefits you,” said Colback. “It’s not uncommon that a manager will stop an XI v XI training session to sort out tactics. Some players find that boring because they just want to play five-a-side, 100 miles an hour.
“But it’s what needs to be done and he makes sure he does it. He repeats similar things because if you keep repeating things you’ll improve.
“In each game, he changes it a little bit for the opposition.
“It’s not a case of ‘this is my idea, we’ll do it no matter what’.
“He changes small things for whoever we’re coming up against.”
Colback says Benitez’s love of the game, and tactical acumen, is evident day in, day out at the club’s training ground.
Benitez, one of Europe’s most respected coaches, “eats, sleeps and breathes” football – and that enthusiasm is infectious.
“I think every manager has his different views, different thoughts, said 27-year-old Colback, who has struggled for form since returning from injury late last month.
“For Rafa, he’s very thorough in every he does. I can’t see him ever switching off about the game – I think he goes home and talks to his wife about training!
“That’s the beauty of him, he just loves the game.
“For some managers, it might be more of a job now and it’s a little mundane, it’s their living. But, for him, he’s 100% football. He eats, sleeps and breathes it.
“He brings that on to the players and he never lets you switch off. Tactically, he’s very smart at what he does.”
Colback has had a run of games alongside Isaac Hayden in the absence of Shelvey, who will be available for Wednesday’s FA Cup replay against Birmingham City at St James’s Park.