Rafa Benitez has pleaded with fans to stay behind out of form striker Joselu, claiming he is ‘giving everything’ and ‘doing a great job for the team’, so will only become more nervous and make more mistakes if we don’t support him.
Joselu made a solid enough start to life on Tyneside, but he’s struggled particularly over recent weeks – resulting in several fans calling for Aleksandar Mitrovic to be given his chance in the side.
The Spaniard looked woefully short on confidence on Saturday, and has since taken a lot of criticism for his lacklustre displays of late.
Fans have questioned why Benitez continues to play him, however Benitez has jumped to his defence today, stating that he and DeAndre Yedlin did not deserve the criticism they’ve received given their efforts for the team:
“But Joselu is doing well because he’s doing a great job for the team. Then there is [DeAndre] Yedlin, he had a great game [against Watford]. I was surprised at the criticism.
“But it wasn’t true, we have to help him. The players around him have to be closer and we have to communicate better. We had to support him a bit more.
“To criticise our players is not fair because our players are giving everything. You can be better or worse, you can miss a chance or you can score an own goal, whatever.
“But if they give everything, me as a manager, I am happy with that and they [the fans] have to be happy.”
Rafa then made a very good point, pleading with fans to stay behind the likes of Joselu, stating that they will only find it harder to perform if they are continuously criticised:
“My experience is very simple: if you are more nervous, you make more mistakes. If you are calm, it will be easier – it will still be tough, but it will be easier.
“If we don’t want to understand that, at the end, we will go where we don’t want to go. If we make the mistake of criticising our players all the time, they will go into the next game and they will be more anxious, more nervous and they will make more mistakes.”
Joselu’s performances have been alarmingly poor of late, but Benitez has a valid argument here.
At the end of the day, regardless of their ability, players like Joselu are still putting in a shift for our team and doing their best. It may not be good enough, but any abuse will only make things worse.
Joselu’s confidence is frail as it is, so don’t expect him to get any better if you boo him is probably Rafa’s message here.
A bold move from Rafa to jump to the defence of a player so many fans want out the team, but a warning we should probably take note of.
“We won’t demand a team that wins, we demand a team that tries,” Remember?