Sport Soccer

Monday 18 December 2017

Rafael Benitez: Newcastle showing belief and character

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has given his players belief.
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has given his players belief.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez believes his players have proved they have the character and belief to win their Premier League relegation battle.

Goals from Papiss Cisse and Jack Colback saw the Magpies come from 2-0 down at half-time at Anfield after goals from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana to secure an important point in their quest to avoid the drop.

It ensured they avoided an unwanted club record of 10 successive away defeats and means they have taken five points from their last three matches, the last two of which have been draws against Manchester City and Liverpool.

"We needed to show character and belief - we did it late but we did it and that is the positive thing," said Benitez after his return to his former club.

"They (the players) have to realise where we are, what we have to do and how we have to play if we want to stay up.

"I have said so many times since I have been here they have trained well, worked hard and they need confidence.

"When the game is 1-0 down maybe away they don't have the confidence but they showed character, reaction and passion.

"I told the players it is important to understand the reaction is the way but it is more important not to make mistakes and not to give teams the chance to go ahead at the beginning of the game."

Benitez has been credited with making Newcastle more resilient since taking over from Steve McClaren with the club in a desperate position.

They have three matches to save their top-flight status and although they are relying on their north-east rivals Sunderland and Norwich to drop points the Spaniard is confident they can achieve their aim.

Benitez was asked how different it was managing a team at the foot of the table rather than one near the top, where he has spent most of his career.

"In terms of how to approach the game it is more or less the same - I try to win every game," he added.

"Be calm, do my job, try to win every single game and after that start thinking about the next one.

"It is quite similar, the only difference is sometimes you can see the anxiety of the fans and fear in people.

"Now little by little you can see the team is better organised and with better reactions.

"If you want to change something the players understand what they have to do and that is crucial for me.

"It depends on other teams still but if we can play at this level, fight with this spirit I think we can do it.

"But we need to get three points against Crystal Palace."

Press Association

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