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Transfers, Watford, and Slimani: Highlights From Rafa’s Friday Presser

Fact: Rafa enjoys his eggs with steak

AFC Bournemouth v Newcastle United - Premier League

With Newcastle coming off back to back losses, transfer rumors beginning to fly, and Rafa beginning contract negotiations , there was a lot to cover at today’s press conference with the Spaniard.


After losing two in a row Rafa is keen on picking up 3 points this weekend against Watford, despite the lackadaisical performance his team put on last week against West Brom. Rafa had this to say about his team going into this weekend’s match up.

“Our idea is to try to get 3 points in every game, but especially after 2 defeats we want to do well. It is difficult after what we have achieved but we will make some changes to keep players on their toes”

“When you are working so hard and achieve your target, it’s more difficult. I was tempted to repeat the team, to change players. We will change players to keep fresh legs.

One thing to focus on from these comments besides the fact that Rafa does not like to lose, is the fact that Rafa mentions changing players multiple times. The Chronicle already eluded to the fact that we might see different faces this weekend, especially Mikel Merino who hasn’t made a league start in some time now. I would imagine we will see a rotated team, made up of a lot of fringe players who deserve the chance to be prove that they should be included in next year’s team. We should be seeing the likes of Isaac Hayden, Mikel Merino, Chancel Mbemba and some others playing this weekend, likely hungry to make a good impression on the boss.

Rafa then shifted his focus on his opponents. Stating that Watford should not be taken lightly.

“They have some good players. We wee watching the last game against Tottenham & they had some chances on the counter. They are not in the same moment as when we lost in November. We expect some surprises from them.”

Rafa is right, Watford does not have the momentum they had in the reverse fixture of being near the top of the table, but like he said that does not mean this game is going to be easy. It is an away match for Newcastle, which is always going to be tough, and Watford are not a bad side. Watford still have solid players such as Gerard Deulofeu, Nathaniel Chalobah, Christian Kabasele, the young Brazillian Richarlison and of course former Newcastle player Daryl Janmaat. The back line also has to deal with Troy Deeney, who certainly can bag in some goals.

Watford v Chelsea - Premier League
Solid performances from the likes of Deulofeu and Deeney really propelled Watford to Success (lol) at the beginning of the season
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images


Rafa addressed injuries during this presser as well, and only focused on two players, the only two players people cared about.

“We have a couple of problems with Ciaran Clark and Christian Atsu. At this stage of the season, you have to be careful with them.”

Both Atsu and Clark have been listed as day to day the past couple of fixtures as each are nursing their various injuries. Both would likely have wanted to play this weekend as Lejeune and Kenedy have been brilliant in their absence. Not mentioned in the presser were Jesus Gamez (of course) and Rob Elliot, who are both also nursing injuries.


The striker’s season has come to an end after receiving a 3 match ban, but Rafa lets us know that the striker wants to remain involved with the club

“Islam Slimani will remain to train with us. He said he wanted to stay and train. I will speak with him again next week.”

From the outside looking in, it looks like Slimani wants a chance to prove to Rafa that he can be his number 9 next year. Slimani was less than impressive in his first start for Rafa, but to be fair he was not receiving the same support that Gayle and Perez received during Newcastles amazing run of form. Leicester look to be done with the striker, and it should be interesting to see if Rafa tries to get him for a bargain price this summer.


Speaking of transfers, obviously Rafa was asked about that as well. He had a lot to say concerning the transfer window.

“It’s always important to do things as quickly as possible”

“But still, a lot of people are worried about the transfer window, that they are saying: ‘Oh, you have less time than in the past.’

“Yes, but we had so much time in the past, so it doesn’t matter if you reduce it to 20 days - you have plenty of time to do business.”

Rafa is sending shots at his employers who for 3 windows in a row have waited until the final week of the transfer window to do any actual serious business. Rafa is using his platform to once again send a message to Mike Ashley. Rafa has been very vocal about the lack of support he has felt from MA and the board as well as the broken promises. With Newcastle slotted to net a lot Premier League TV money for not only their finishing position, but the amount of times they have been televised Mike Ashley has no excuse to not give Rafa the money he needs to improve the squad.

Everton v Newcastle United - Premier League
Kenedy is one of those rare last minute signings that has worked out, of course Joselu and Slimani are good examples of what happens when you wait
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

At this stage we all know what Rafa wants, and we all understand his frustration with his superiors. If the club want to retain his services, they must either sell or support their manager. If they do neither, Newcastle could be facing a situation similar to what Sunderland are in.

Contract Talks

Rafa started contract negotiations with the club last month. His representatives have been chatting with Lee Charnley about an extension. The Spaniard has reportedly put transfer business at the forefront of discussions as well as making sure his goals align with the club’s goals. When asked if there were any updates regarding his contract situation Rafa replied “Still we are talking, but no news.” Rafa also had this to say regarding his contract talks with the club.

“Not really, as soon as possible,” (when asked about whether he had personal deadline for these negotiations)

“At the moment, we are in the same situation - no news. We are still talking, so we have some time.

“No news means: no news yet.”

Rafa’s responses don’t give away whether or not he is frustrated with the way contract talks are going. But, a lot of reports have surfaced about some of the demands Rafa wants, ad his frustration with the verbal agreements Mike Ashley has given him in the past. One report from The Mirror states that Rafa wants written transfer guarantees in his contract, this of course would legally hold the club accountable to backing the manager and is likely one barrier in completing the negotiations. Rafa also has publicly declared that the club knows what he wants, and that puts the ball in the court of the club. Rafa made this statement on BBC’s “The Premier League Show”, which has pushed the knowledge f the contract situation from mostly local, to being something that everyone in the Premier League will be tuning into, especially given the amount of rumored sackings once the season ends.

Like I said, the ball is in the court of Lee and Mike. What they do with it will determine the future of this club, and trust me, everyone is watching.