It says a lot about how Rafa Benitez changed the mood amongst the Newcastle United fans here in the Transfer Tavern that they are now disappointed with only a draw away at Southampton. While the Toon Army probably should have won on the south coast, it’s not often they come away with anything there, so you can imagine just how well things are going for the Magpies thus far.
Indeed, though the Geordie contingent here in our bar are aware that their side lacks top quality, they’re hugely delighted about the manner in which Benitez has them working and believe you’d be hard-pressed to find many better-organised outfits in the Premier League. Perhaps that’s a tad bias on their part, though you can certainly see the Rafa effect in play at Newcastle United.
Still, an interesting tidbit has emerged from the Chronicle in regards to the Spaniard’s thoughts about one of the Toon’s most popular players. Within their live blog, Chris Waugh’s comments on Chancel Mbemba have certainly split opinion amongst the punters propping up our bar.
He claims that, despite the fact Benitez believes the DR Congo international is a strong defender, he doesn’t think the former Anderlecht star listens to instructions closely enough and that doesn’t rate his ability to communicate with teammates on the pitch.
As you can imagine, it’s not great news for the Newcastle fans in our bar, who love Mbemba. Still, they believe in Benitez and aren’t likely to second guess perhaps the most popular manager at St. James’ Park since Sir Bobby Robson all those years ago.
Mbemba is clearly a talent, though the form of Florian Lejeune provides him with a problem. With Ciaran Clark having proven to be a pillar of Rafa’s success with the club so far, as well as Jamaal Lascelles’ constant improvement, the African defender may find life difficult.