First off, let’s all calm down about the Cardiff match. It was an absolute crapshoot, however, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the magpies season. Remember, this time last season we had zero points. We have one right now, while Arsenal actually have less than us. I’d say we’re off to a better start than last year.
With that being said, it doesn’t mean that Rafa isn’t without criticism at how the first two matches played out. He is still stuck in his ways when it comes to substitutions, often substituting players at the same time intervals throughout the match.
The 60th, 75th, and 85th minutes. These are Rafa’s scheduled substitution times. What is baffling to me is that he doesn’t change this stance. Joselu should have absolutely been substituted earlier in the match instead of being left on to play the entire 90 minutes. Salomon Rondon should have taken over that match at the beginning of the second half.
I have no arguments with the Isaac Hayden substitution except he had lacked the discipline to stay in the match. It cost Newcastle United a lot.
There were decisions made in the first match that were also questionable, such as refusing to switch around the tactics, or taking off Matt Ritchie when he was having a phenomenal match. These decisions arguably cost Newcastle United points, and the club could easily be at four or six points right now if Rafa had played his cards right.
The Cardiff match should have been a win. Without a doubt, Cardiff played terribly, but Newcastle United played at their level. That’s what’s so shocking. Rafa did not take off the striker who was unable to do his job, and he continues to leave the new additions on the bench instead of utilizing the talent that we were given in the transfer window.
Sooner or later, Muto, Rondon, and Ki have to start, or all be used as substitutes at some point. Obviously, this club has some serious talent. Just look at how they played against Tottenham. Performances like that are going to get the club farther ahead in the table. Hopefully Cardiff was a lapse in judgement.
But Rafa is not above criticism. We can’t act like he isn’t a large reason why the club failed to walk away with three points against Cardiff. Despite being the best manager the club has had since Robson, it’s important to make sure that we’re paying attention to these things. I’m not saying we should lose our minds, but we should certainly be aware of any mistakes that Rafa has made. And he’s made a lot over these past two matches.