Sunday 16 December 2018

Benitez taking nothing for granted despite strong start

Rafael Benitez has challenged Newcastle to maintain their early-season momentum
Rafael Benitez has challenged Newcastle to maintain their early-season momentum

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has warned his players they have to be prepared in case the wheels come off their Premier League bandwagon.

The promoted Magpies have made an encouraging start to life back in the top flight with a return of 14 points from their first nine games, but their Spanish manager knows there will be a time when their fortunes take a turn for the worse.

Benitez said: "Our players will have more confidence now because we are doing well, but we are not saying, 'Ooh, we have 14 points and we are fine'. No, no.

"What we have to think is that the next game is an opportunity to get three points and if we can get to 20 and so on, then we have to do it.

"If you approach the season thinking about having to survive, then you will be down there fighting to survive, so you have to approach it trying to be as high as possible in the table.

"I'm not saying that we have to finish 8th, 9th, 10th or whatever, it's just about going as high as possible and now that we're in a good position, it's about trying to go higher."

Newcastle head for Burnley on Monday evening hoping to add to their tally but even if they do so, Benitez will be keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

He said: "People might say now, you haven't played City, United or Arsenal, so it might be different, which is why I'm not going to start saying 'oh, we're amazing'. In January you might be saying to me, 'You've lost five games in a row and you are a disaster'.

"I want to be as high as possible, but we know that sometimes you can play a couple of games and suddenly everything changes. We have to be ready and prepared for that and the only way we can do that is make sure the team are ready for good and bad situations, difficult moments."

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