Rafa plays down Red Devils' 'fragility'
Written by Rory Mitchinson
Rafa Benítez has played down any talk of Manchester United being “fragile” ahead of Newcastle United’s trip to Old Trafford on Saturday.
The Red Devils have equalled their worst ever start to a Premier League campaign, having collected just 10 points from a possible 21, while they also exited the Carabao Cup to Championship outfit Derby County.
Newcastle, too, have fared badly so far. The Magpies have yet to pick up a win of any sort this term, and currently sit 18th in the table with just two points to their name.
But, despite José Mourinho’s side’s struggles of late, Benítez does not sense that his troops will find Saturday’s task any easier.
“In all of my time in England, I don’t remember any ‘fragile’ Manchester United team,” he said. “All of them, every year, have been really strong – with good managers, and good players – so I don’t see any Manchester United team being fragile. I can see a team that everybody was expecting could be higher, but it is a question of time – it is like us.
“If you remember last year, for example, we were in the bottom three and people were saying, ‘Oh, you are in the bottom three.’ But, who are at the top of the table in the Premier League? The three teams who have spent more money than anyone. And who are at the bottom? The three teams that didn’t spend too much money. That is a normal situation. We are in a position that we could expect to be in – (looking at) the fixtures, it is very difficult, but I am also quite positive. I say I have to be realistic, but at the same time I am optimistic. If you look at the teams who were at the bottom (this time) last year, it was Everton, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace, and none of those were relegated.
“It’s a long race, and we have to carry on. We have confidence. We did it last year, and this year, with this group of players, they work really hard and it is a question of time. We will have teams at our level that we can compete (against), that we can win, and the first win will give us confidence and it will be easier for us to carry on winning games, like we did last year.”
Benítez also revealed that two of those who sat out last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Leicester City at St. James’ Park may return for the Magpies at Old Trafford, though frontman Salomón Rondón will again be unavailable.
“I have to assess Fede (Fernández) and (Paul) Dummett,” he said. “Obviously, Rondón and (Florian) Lejeune are not available, and (Jamie) Sterry has a problem, so he too will not be available.”
"In all of my time in England, I don’t remember any ‘fragile’ Manchester United team. All of them, every year, have been really strong – with good managers, and good players – so I don’t see any Manchester United team being fragile."