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Newcastle United’s woes and who to blame

Here’s a guide for those who may be lost in this edition of The Blame Game.

Newcastle United v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Apparently some Newcastle United fans don’t play the blame game very well. And if you’re new to being a fan of this club, allow me to inform you that there is a hierarchy of blame that goes around when it comes to Newcastle’s losses. At the top is always Mike Ashley.

When Newcastle United lost to Arsenal this past weekend, there was a lot of blame to go around. And yes, Rafa Benitez is not without fault. But when it comes to the manager, they can only do so much with what they’re given. This is why Steve McClaren is always seen as one of the worst managers, as he was handed a talented squad of players and failed to yield any results.

Rafa Benitez has been handed a significantly weaker squad of players. If he had what McClaren had in 2016, this would be a whole different ballgame. However, that is not the case. Rafa’s squad struggled, and there are some players who obviously are not pulling the weight expected of them.

Newcastle United v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Jacob Murphy is the type of hardworking players the club need right now.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Among these players is Kenedy. Once thought to be a potentially permanent move, the Chelsea loanee has spoken of his intention to return to Chelsea and win trophies there. Not here. His recent performances are reflecting his commitment to the Toon, and fans are taking notice. The blame he gets is rightfully so.

Ki Sung-yeung is also a player who just isn’t working out on Tyneside so far this season. Being given opportunities and not turning it into gold is bad. It’s only excusable if you’ve only gotten a few minutes here and there. He’s been given plenty of time to prove himself. It isn’t working out, and the blame that Ki is getting is well-placed. However, I have reason to believe that if the supporting cast was actually decent, he may do better. But he hasn’t added any quality to the side this season. Rafa is taking notice.

The club’s inability to create any offense has put pressure on the defense which has really been a bright spot for the club. If the offense could maintain pressure and quality, the backfield may not be struggling so much to pick up the slack. And Rafa’s tactics are reflecting a serious reliance on the backfield to make up for the offensive woes.

Newcastle United v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Rafa isn’t without blame. But does not deserve the amount fans have piled on him.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

This reactionary type of play is wrong. It doesn’t usually work and it hasn’t. The counterattack only works when you have an offense capable of attacking. When you focus heavily on making sure you aren’t scored on, the offense gets little to no help in doing its job. Teams are bound to break through at some point, and they have been. This is why Newcastle United sits at 19th on the table with only one point to their name.

This is Rafa’s error. But his frustrations are echoed by fans of the club worldwide. He has a right to voice those frustrations. He has a right to call out his players for not giving it their all. He has a right to simply walk away from this fiasco of a club.

There’s a lot wrong. But allow me to give you the hierarchy of blame for the reason as to why Newcastle United are where they are right now.

  1. Mike Ashley
  2. Lee Charnley
  3. Players
  4. Rafa
  5. Football Gods

Let’s remember this hierarchy. Never forget it. And if you’re new to the club. Welcome to the blame game.