Gary Neville has criticised Rafa Benitez’s ‘boring’ style of football at Newcastle United, claiming games at St James’ Park should be ‘mad’ and filled with ‘incident and excitement’.
The former Man Utd manager does accept that the Spaniard is a ‘brilliant manager’, but says he was bored ‘every time’ he travelled up to Tyneside for a game during Rafa’s reign.
No doubt some will agree, with a few fans struggling to get on board with Benitez’s pragmatic style which focused on shape, organisation and keep it tight at the back before all else, but I for one find Neville’s comments pretty staggering.
Usually he’s one of the more sensible pundits on Sky Sports, however it doesn’t take a genius to work out why he failed miserably at Valencia if he values ‘incident’ and ‘excitement’ over results.
Here’s what he’s had to say to Sky Sports when discussing all things NUFC,
“To me, I’m not knocking Rafa Benitez – I think he is a brilliant manager – but I think Newcastle, when I go up there, it should just be mad,”
“It should be really loud, the games should be mad. There should be incident and excitement.
“To be fair, some games were always 0-0. Every time I went up there over two years, I was bored. I was bored.”
In an ideal world, we’d be winning games of football and playing free-flowing football, but, right now, I’m sure most fans would take success over style – and Benitez could’ve delivered that with the right tools.
Gary can’t have it both ways. Knowing what he’s like as a pundit, he’d be the first to absolutely slate Newcastle United if we had shipped four or five against Arsenal on Sunday – yet his comments here suggest he didn’t really value the discipline and defensive organisation Benitez brought to the club, with him wanting goals, drama and excitement instead.
Neville forgets the 3-2 win over Everton from 0-2 down, the fact we’re the only team to beat Man City in the league this year and the home wins over Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea during Rafa’s reign. To say he was ‘bored’ is a petty description of a pragmatic but successful style – especially coming from a man who failed to keep a clean sheet and lost one game 7-0 during his stint in charge of Valencia.
Above all else, Benitez brought results – and, at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Maybe many would prefer attacking football, but just look how far that got us under Steve McClaren..