“You don’t win 13 trophies without attacking.” This was Rafa Benitez’s brilliant message to critics during a fascinating interview with the Chronicle earlier this week.
Benitez shouldn’t have to justify his credentials to the likes of Richard Keys of course – but it’s a timely reminder of the calibre of manger United luckily currently have on their books. A manager can only serve up a style to get results with what they have – a pragmatic approach that has meant Rafa delivering promotion and a top ten finish last year.
Here’s what else Rafa had to say when defending our ‘defensive’ style – insisting that we simply play to our strengths and try to find ‘balance’:
“The majority of the fans realise the potential of our team and we manage it.
“They can also see we are getting points.
“What we have to do is play well and win games, not just play well and see what happens.
“You can see a lot of teams that playing really well offensively and using expansive football. But they also concede a lot of goals.
“I don’t think our fans would be happy if we were doing that.
“So we have to find the balance.
“Look at the Cardiff game as an example, we showed we could attack and score goals against team of our level.
“We will try to do it in coming games again.”
Benitez knows we don’t have the attacking prowess to dismantle teams at this level, though he will hope Almiron can change that, so has focused on making us well drilled and solid defensively.
We have the seventh best defence in the league and are on track to stay up again, even if it may be tighter than last year. With so little investment – a net spend of practically zero in his three years in charge, what else could Benitez do?
In terms of the end of this season, here’s what Rafa said when asked if we’d stay up:
“Hopefully, now with more competition and defensive players around we will be better.
“We will create chances and score goals.
“What we have to do though is keep the balance we have in defence and attack.
“That is the key if we are going to get the points we need.”
It is this balance the likes of Keys will never understand – it is worth noting that playing this way meant we beat Manchester City 2-1, a result that could be pivotal in keeping us up.
Chelsea tried to attack and high press Manchester City last week and were battered 6-0; perhaps Rafa knows what he is doing after all – something detractors like Keys should remember.