Newcastle United exited the League Cup last night at the hands of Nottingham Forest at the cathedral on the hill.

Forest scored the winning goal in extra time and go through to the next round on the back of a 3-2 victory.

United had the biggest attendance of any clubs who played last night by a proverbial mile as just under 28,000 filed into St James’ Park. Not unexpected but little consolation.

Reaction to the defeat from United fans on social media has been mixed – varying from anger and concern that we have now lost all three of this season’s matches, through to relief by some that an annoying distraction has been removed and we can concentrate on picking up points in the Premier League.

The “Rafa should play 4-4-2” brigade have been banging their drum again too as they give the benefit of their vast football knowledge to one of the best managers in the world.

The team selected by Rafa has come under scrutiny. Largely a mix of “reserves” and a couple of promising kids:

Darlow, Sterry, Hanley, Mbemba, Gamez, Murphy, Saivet, Barlaser, Aarons, Diame, Mitrovic

Significantly, there were no players in the team who would be regarded as first choices when everyone is fit – and I just wonder if Rafa was actually using this game to make a point. The point being about the weakness of his overall squad – that outside of the 11-14 players who make the first team, this lot are all he has as backup?

Maybe this was the latest shot in the battle of wills between a manager with a proven track record and who knows what he’s doing and an owner who won’t “speculate to accumulate” but just hopes to sit in a corner and count the estimated £170M coming the club’s way this season just for being on the telly?

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Rafa remained upbeat in his post-match press conference – however he did point out that improvements were needed in certain areas. He said:

“We knew that to going into the Premier League, a new division, a new competition, another level, you can win games or you can lose games. In this case, we lost this one. It was a game that we were expecting to win – we didn’t do it and we have to be ready for the next one. I have said that this team will improve and I am convinced that we will do it.”

Some of those improvements can be made in training, tactics and team organisation. And that’s a given – we know Rafa will work his socks off to make those improvements happen.

But it’s clear that there are still key positions in the team where more quality is needed which can only be solved by incoming transfers in the few days left of the summer transfer window.

I think that’s the point Rafa was making. But will it fall on deaf ears as usual?

What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below (We use Disqus).

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  • LeroyGibbs

    Don’t know if it was intentional by Rafa, but it is true that the team last night had quite a few weaknesses.
    The squad needs a class keeper, a No10 and a proven striker at the very least.