Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has defended his decision to rotate heavily in recent weeks saying that he “doesn’t have players like Lionel Messi”.
The Spaniard has come under fire in recent weeks for making too many changes during the busy festive period when Newcastle failed to pick up a win from any of their five games in 15 days.
Benitez came in for criticism especially for his squad management in the Liverpool game on Boxing Day when the Magpies were beaten 4-0.
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss admitted his mistakes but defended himself by saying fatigue played a factor in his selection.
Benitez told the Newcastle Chronicle : "To be fair I didn't just manage the squad against Liverpool, I thought we could win the game with fresh legs and doing the right things.
"I was disappointed because we made mistakes against a very good team to give them the advantage.
"We should have managed the game better.
"The festive games are not just about managing the squad and having fresh legs for each game, it is to pick the right players for a certain game.
"Sometimes a player who is classed as better in theory, they can be tired.
"If he is tired he's worse than the other one.”
The 1-1 draw at home to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup third round on Saturday also prompted questions after eight changes were made to the team that lost to Manchester United three days earlier.
Benitez hit back at any critics saying that his players cannot perform to the best of their ability during the congested period of fixtures.
"If you had Lionel Messi - OK, he would have to be there no matter what because he can make the difference," he added.
"But, if you don't have players like Messi or players of a similar level, you need players who can give you something physically in a third game in a row in a short period of time."