Jamie Redknapp lays into Rafa Benitez's tactics after defeat to Chelsea
Rafa Benitez sprung several changes ahead of the visit of Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.
Newcastle playmaker Jonjo Shelvey was left out and so too was club captain Jamaal Lascelles, reportedly due to an unwillingness to play on the right side of a back three, as Benitez aimed to frustrate his former side at St James' Park.
It took Chelsea some time to break down the Magpies but Maurizio Sarri ended up bringing all three points back to London.
Benitez clearly would have been content with a point but his defensive tactics were not enough to prevent the Blues from maintaining their perfect start to the Premier League season.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Jamie Redknapp ripped into Benitez's gameplan and went so far as to claim that the Spaniard's strategy didn't quite qualify as football.
"It’s been hard to watch. It’s not football. It’s working, yeah, but it’s not football," Redknapp said.
"He’s the only manager in the Premier League who can get away with this, he’s made a living out of playing this way.
"It’s hard to watch, it’s hard to sell to your own team."
Sarri, who succeeded Benitez at Napoli, admitted that he didn't expect such tactics from the Newcastle boss.
"I was surprised at Rafa," Sarri said. "In Italy, I have never seen him play with five defenders so I was really surprised.
"The match was very difficult, they were so low and compact, it was impossible to have spaces.
"We got better in the second half but it was a very difficult game."