Rafa Benitez has sent a subtle dig to NUFC owner Mike Ashley following last night’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Burnley, saying that we knew the importance of bringing players in early ahead of games with Swansea and Burnley – suggesting the last minute arrival of Islam Slimani may have cost us a few precious points.
Rafa may have been happy with sign Slimani and Dubravka in the end, with new-boy Kenedy also putting in a superb performance, but he’s clearly not ready to forget Ashley’s costly mistakes last month.
It’s quite simple. Rafa had his targets from January 1st and made it clear to Mike Ashley and the NUFC board that he’d set a deadline of the 20th January to bring in new players. Ideally he’d have had them in early to play Swansea the week before, but it’s so so simple to see why he wanted business concluded early. If Islam Slimani had been playing up top last night and against a poor Swansea side a few weeks ago, I am quite certain that we’d have won at least one of those games.
Last night we may have secured the shrewd loan signing of Islam Slimani and Martin Dubravka, but it’s further proof of why our business was done too late when you see us drop yet more points at home due to a lack of quality in front of goal.
Here’s what Rafa said when asked what he made of last night’s result:
“We (Ashley included) knew that bringing in players early was important to us especially with games against Swansea and this game.”
“We have to manage the situation we have.”
Ironically, missed chances from Joselu and an unfortunate own goal from Karl Darlow ended up costing us two points. This is harsh on the latter, but what Benitez would have gave to have had his new striker and new stopper signed in time to play this game.
Slimani may have a knock, meaning he couldn’t have played anyway, but that’s not the point – Benitez warned Ashley why he didn’t want to leave it until the last minute, and you can bet your bottom dollar that this was partly due to the risk of dropping big points in such ‘winnable’ games.
Here’s hoping Slimani and Dubravka can have the desired effect – we need some fresh impetus!