Speaking to the press today ahead of tomorrow nights crucial clash with Everton, Rafa Benitez has sent a passionate message to each and every NUFC fan to St James’ Park, pleading with fans to stay behind the players, even if they are making mistakes – stressing that things will only get worse with criticism from the stands during games.
This is quite a telling plea to the St James’ Park faithful and a bold one too given the criticism both Benitez and the first-team have received during our awful run – winning just one of our last TEN Premier League games.
Whether you agree or disagree with his message below, I feel it’d be wise to take note. Our struggles on the pitch can be helped (not hindered!) by your support of it:
“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 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.
“Are we happy with that? No. Our fans have been amazing last season, and this year at home and away, and we have to continue in the same way.
“If someone misses a chance, fine. Next time, maybe he will be better. If someone makes a mistake in defence and we concede, I will be upset, but still we have to carry on.”
It’s seems very clear that Rafa is keen to protect the confidence players in our team and the lack of confidence in our squad as a whole after three straight defeats at St James’ Park.
Up top, the goal shy Joselu has so often been ridiculed for his poor finishing. Rafa is asking fans to stay behind him, explaining that he will only go into the next game ‘more nervous’ if criticism is rife within the stadium. He scored on Saturday, but he has received a lot of flack.
At the back, Yedlin and Lejeune have been making mistakes too, and again, Rafa’s mentions of nerves and anxiety are relatable with these two (or any of our recent defenders for that matter), with us having conceded three times in our last two home games.
There’s always that argument that players should be giving us something to cheer about in the first place for us to get behind them, but as supporters of our beloved NUFC, I would urge you stay supportive and get behind the boys tomorrow night.
Jeering or booing may be a natural reaction to some who watch millionaire footballers making mistake after mistake on the pitch, but for the sake of our club, our league position, our Premier League safety and our result tomorrow night, let’s take Rafa’s advice and stick behind the lads from first minute to last.
We’re in a fight for survival and, as Benitez regularly states, we’re stronger together.