Alan Shearer has admitted that fan’s understanding of Benitez’s situation has intensified their support for the Spaniard, however feels that many inside St James’ Park have also become increasingly frustrated by the lack of activity behind the scenes – making the atmosphere at St James’ Park delicate to say the least.
In his latest piece for the BBC, with Shearer also admitting that Benitez did want to strengthen ‘more than he did’ in January, however he has been left impressed by the ‘excellent’ Kenedy and Dubravka, also feeling hopeful that Islam Slimani can have the same impact when fit.
Here’s what the former NUFC number 9 has had to say today, assessing Benitez’s situation, the three new signings, Sunday’s result and what need to happen at St James’ Park between now and the end of the season:
“I think he is doing a magnificent job and the vast majority of fans are with him and know what he is going through, and having to put up with,”
”I was not surprised the club did not spend more money in the January transfer window because of what was going on in the background with the failed takeover, and I know Benitez wanted to strengthen his squad more than he did.
“But two of the three signings he did make – Kenedy and Dubravka – have been excellent, and hopefully Islam Slimani will have the same impact in attack when he is fit.
Shearer then explained why Newcastle players and fans contributed towards such a great atmosphere on Sunday, suggesting that our positive approach to the game in the first 10 minutes got fans immediately on our side:
“The Newcastle fans definitely helped [on Sunday] but the way the players went after Manchester United in the first 10 minutes lifted the whole stadium and got the crowd going from the start.
“Benitez played with two up front in Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez , which was a really attacking approach anyway, and the high-tempo start the whole team made set the tone for the rest of the game.
“We used to try to do something similar at St James’ Park when I was a Newcastle player because we knew if we really took the game to the opposition early on then it created a really positive atmosphere from the start.”
Finally, Shearer admits that frustrations behind the scenes has made St James’ Park has been a difficult place to play of late, however he feels the players have no shown what they can do and must replicate this if they are to continue earning vital home wins:
“St James’ Park will also be a difficult environment to play in at the moment because of what is going on behind the scenes, with so many of the fans desperate for the owner Mike Ashley to leave,”
“But now the players have shown what they can do and they also know what kind of response they will get.
“Newcastle are going to need to produce more home performances like this one in the next few months if they are going to stay up but, with the backing of that crowd, they have got a very good chance.”
This all seems pretty spot on from Shearer – a man who understands Newcastle United as well as any – however I do think that St James’ Park won’t be a difficult place to play if we continue to put in that sort of effort level that we showed on Sunday.
One thing’s for sure, nothing but support is needed between now and the end of the season, but the players have a huge part to play above all else.
Repeat that sort of performance against Man Utd in upcoming home games against the likes of Huddersfield, Southampton, West Brom and Arsenal and I’m more than confident of getting enough points on the between now and mid-May.