Rafa Benitez has been defended over his negative style of play by Newcastle ace Matt Ritchie.
Benitez has been criticised throughout Newcastle’s winless start to the season for setting his team up far too defensively, predominantly in the three defeats to Tottenham, on the opening weekend, Chelsea and Manchester City.
All three games resulted in close 2-1 losses for the Magpies, but Benitez’s side were comprehensively outplayed on each occasion. In the latter two fixtures, the defeats to Chelsea and City, Benitez went all-in with his decision to play a negative game, lining up with five defenders and ceding possession to the opposition entirely; Chelsea had 81 per cent of the ball during their win, while City’s victory came with a possession total of 78 per cent.
The former Liverpool manager was called out in the press after the Chelsea clash for choosing a five-man defensive system at home, and the pressure remained on Benitez when he stuck with the same formation against City.