'It's bad... but we have to wait and see' - Rafa Benitez after Newcastle fail to beat Villa
Published 07/05/2016 | 19:35
Newcastle find their Barclays Premier League destiny out of their own hands in a predicament that manager Rafael Benitez described as "bad, but simple".
The goalless draw at already-relegated Aston Villa combined with Sunderland's 3-2 home victory against Chelsea leaves Newcastle in the relegation zone, a point behind their north east rivals.
Benitez is right, it is simple. A Sunderland win against Everton on Wednesday night will send Newcastle back down to the Championship. Even if Everton manage to get something at the Stadium of Light, the Magpies will have to win at home to Tottenham on the final day of the season and hope the Black Cats do not win at Watford.
"It's bad, but simple," said Benitez. "We have to wait and then after try to win, depending on what they do during the week.
"`If it goes to the last one then we have to fight to get the three points and see what happens.
"Everyone is disappointed, but this is normal. The only thing you can say is try to be ready, in training and recovery, for next week because we have to play one game and we have to get three points."
Benitez saw his team create the better chances at Villa Park but Newcastle were wasteful in front of goal, most notably in the second half through Jack Colback and Aleksandar Mitrovic - who also went very close to breaking the deadlock with a header.
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager felt his players began the game too nervous.
He said: "I think that we didn't play well (in the first half) because maybe there was too much anxiety. The players were too tense and we couldn't do what we wanted to.
"In the second half we were better, there was a reaction and we created some chances and were pushing and pushing but when you have so many people behind the ball you can't find a clear chance and when you are under pressure you make more mistakes.
"We knew (the Sunderland score) in the second half and we were better in the second half. We had the chances of Mitrovic and Colback. It is a pity but it was not enough.
"It was an opportunity to stay ahead of Sunderland and we couldn't do it. Now we have to be ready for the weekend, and that's it."
Villa Park bid farewell to top flight football for the first time since 1987 and at least Eric Black's team avoided the indignity of setting a new club record of 12 successive league defeats.
Despite defeat at Watford last week, Black felt the performance went some way to helping to repair the fractured relationship with the club's supporters - and the caretaker boss thought the stalemate with Newcastle was another small step in the right direction.
He said: "I think last week we edged closer. We spoke all week about the supporters, because next season this club is going to need them, and at Watford with the performance I thought we edged towards them and again today I think we took another step.
"The supporters today were breathtaking and I think the players responded, played for the jersey and worked tirelessly.
"We had to try to get the supporters back on side before the end of this season, for the start of next season, because the atmosphere they create is pretty close to the 12th man. We need them and I think the players deserve credit for taking these little steps back towards them under difficult conditions.
"The hope is that some of these supporters come back with slightly more optimism than they would have done going away with several home defeats. It's a very small step but it's a start, (we have) got to build something."