Newcastle United suffered yet another defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers, who currently sit in 22nd place in the Championship. While the Mags lost another three points, title rivals Brighton and Hove Albion made use of the advantage and moved two points clear, with a game in hand.
As the away game now marks seven losses, Rafa Benitez has been facing harsher questioning from the media and supporters, who are concerned about what this could mean in the title chase.
Mitrovic out, Murphy in
The most controversial decision that the Mags boss made was taking Daryl Murphy across to Lancashire instead of Aleksandar Mitrovic. With the January transfer window looming and rumours of several clubs interested, leaving the Serbian at home has sparked conspiracy theories of the striker being on his way out soon.
However, Benitez simply explained his decision by stating that: “the way he (Murphy) was working in the training sessions...it was not a big difference between one or the other one (on the bench).”
The Irishman went on to make his debut for the club in the league, coming off the bench late into the game, similar to the role Mitrovic has adopted in the Championship.
Benitez commented on his performance, he said: “He did really well. He was winning the ball and bringing players into the game. I think he was fine."
Throughout the match Newcastle remained the dominant side in possession but moving forward was difficult as the Rovers had prepared for their top side.
On the defensive resilience of the home side, Benitez said: “It was a difficult situation because they were deep. He did what he had to do," before adding, "The only thing we didn’t do was score. We had a lot of chances, especially first half.”
The Toon have been prone to narrow losses, twice against Blackburn now and last time at home Benitez suggested complacency to blame for the defeat. But the Newcastle boss was reluctant to put it down to this in the away leg: “It’s difficult to say it was a lack of concentration. For me, we made a mistake, and they scored a goal. It’s difficult,"
The 56-year-old continued by saying, “We had so many chances to score one goal, and they game could change. We had everything under control."
Keen to put to bed another loss, the manager quickly summarised the game with a simply pro and con analysis: “The positive thing is that we did really well. The negative thing is that we didn’t get the three points.”