After yesterday’s pitiful defeat to Watford – a performance that saw us crash out of the FA Cup before the last 16 stage once again – a fellow fan told me ‘Pardew or McClaren would’ve been slated..so why does Rafa escape criticism?!’.
My response is pretty simple..
Alan Pardew had Ben Arfa, Ba, Cisse, Cabaye, Coloccini, Krul and Tiote in their prime. It was a team with genuine talent throughout in an era where a Sissoko was our weakness and deemed a flop – not a Joselu.
McClaren was given over £80m to spend. In the space of SIX months, he was allowed to bring in FIVE £12-£14.5m players (Wijnaldum, Mitrovic, Thauvin, Shelvey and Townsend).
Benitez has been forced to settle for £5m strikers, Premier League rejects & our net spend since promotion is £100,000. Four transfer windows have passed since we got back into the top flight, and Ashley has sanctioned just ONE £10m plus deal so far – an unbelievable stat when you consider A) McClaren was given five £12m plus signings in six months and B) the fact players McClaren signed a few years ago would now be costing £20m plus given the way transfer fees have inflated since then.
Some will criticise Rafa’s tactics or ‘defensive formations’, but can you blame him for playing to our strengths and making sure we keep it tight at the back when so many of our attacking players just don’t look up to it at the other end.
If you’re a team that won’t score more than one most weeks, you will only ever win by keeping a clean sheet – and Rafa’s decision to adopt this sort of approach it totally justifiable given the tools he’s working with. It’d be a different story if he left quality players on the bench every week or failed to attack with the likes of Ben Arfa, Ba and Cisse in his ranks, but he doesn’t – he had Joselu, Murphy and Kenedy yesterday..
Does Rafa get things wrong? Of course he does, but I’d LOVE to see how they’d would’ve managed in Rafa’s position – and can only wish Benitez had the players Pardew or the backing McClaren received.