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Sarri shocked by Benitez’s tactics

Maurizio Sarri joined the chorus of disapproval for the negative tactics employed by Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez as Chelsea won 2-1 at St James’ Park on Sunday.

Maurizio Sarri succeeded Rafael Benitez at Napoli in 2015
Maurizio Sarri succeeded Rafael Benitez at Napoli in 2015

Sarri said he was stunned by the Benitez’s defensive approach as Newcastle put nine men behind the ball and played with one striker, despite being the home side. “We knew that it would be a difficult game for us, and every team that comes here,” Sarri said.

“But it has been more difficult because in Italy I never saw Rafa play with five defenders at the back,” said Sarri, who arrived in the summer after leaving a job at Napoli where he had succeeded Benitez. It meant we needed to move the ball very fast.” Others were even more scathing of Benitez after Newcastle enjoyed less than 20 percent of the possession.

Former Liverpool star Jamie Redknapp, working for Sky Sports, said: “I don’t buy into those tactics. If you’re going to Manchester City, against the champions, by all means. But not at home. The possession stats are embarrassing. If you’re a Newcastle player in that dressing room, you’re embarrassed because you know you can play more.”

And Graeme Souness, who once managed Newcastle, said: “If I was a player in that team, I would rather have been beaten 3-0 having a go, than losing like that.” Benitez almost had the last laugh because Newcastle were on the verge of taking a point from the game.

They held out until the 76th minute when Eden Hazard scored from the spot after Marcos Alonso was brought down by Fabian Schar. – AFP.