West Brom vs Newcastle – Big chance for Rafa
The alarm bells started ringing after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat against Watford and Rafa Benitez will be looking for an immediate response against a West Brom team who are searching for a new manager. United were well-beaten and Benitez will be looking for a response in the West Midlands.
Rafa Benitez will have to make some big calls ahead of the game with Christian Atsu, Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett still missing.
Join us for all the build-up, live coverage and post game analysis with Lee Ryder, Chris Waugh, Mark Douglas, Andrew Musgrove and Sean McCormick.
What the managers say
Gary Megson: “We try to pick up where we left off at Wembley against Tottenham. There were a lot of things that we can be pleased about but in isolation that would be no good.”
“From our own point of view, we go into it not thinking about Newcastle – good team, great manager, fantastic football club – we set that aside and then we try to pick up where we left off at Wembley against Tottenham.
“There were a lot of things that we can be pleased about but in isolation that would be no good.
“We’ve got to use that now and keep doing it. We know people can do it and they need to do it all the time.
“The fact is, I won’t look any further than the Newcastle game and neither will the players. But it’s an opportunity because we’ve just played well and got a good point.
“Now we’re at home and hopefully we can play as well as that and convert one point into three.”
Rafael Benitez: “We are not a team where one player will make the difference. We are a team that has to win games as a team – altogether.”
The Magpies have slipped into the bottom half of the Premier League table after defeats to Burnley, AFC Bournemouth, Manchester United and Watford, with back-to-back away trips now lying in wait.
Still, United are four points better off than they were at the same stage two seasons ago – a campaign in which they slipped out of the top flight.
And a passionate Benítez was keen to stress that the Magpies’ current crop are “giving everything” for the black and white shirt, and urged the club’s supporters to stay united heading into a hectic period.
“I think the fans appreciate that this group of players really care about the shirt and they really care about what they are doing,” he said. “We cannot forget that on September 1st, we were complaining and all the fans were saying, ‘Hmm, it will be a tough, difficult season.’ So, we are 14th in the league and we are in a good position. Still, we can win some games and we can lose some games and it could be more difficult, but, again I will say: what is our target? What do we want to achieve? To stay in the Premier League. Nobody was saying that it would be easy.