Rafa Benitez gave Moussa Sissoko some support after the midweek friendly at Doncaster. He was quoted in the Chronicle as saying:
“[Sissoko] will report back like everybody else has, and then we will go from there. We will see him on the first of August, but until then it is not really worth talking about anything because he is not here.”
As endorsements go, it wasn’t anyway ringing. Still, it’s more support than most of us want to give Sissoko and the sooner he slings his hook out of St James Park, the better for all concerned.
It was a theme Rafa warmed to. Not defending Sissoko but getting on with the meeting the challenges ahead, not least in deciding who his chosen team will be. We are a fortnight away from the season beginning and like most managers, Benitez wants his starting line-up practising together in training well before they take to the pitch at Craven Cottage.
Whether he can or not depends on how much business is left to be done. It might require the board to compromise on their demands for Sissoko to shift him on so that Rafa can get on with finalising a squad which wants to be here.