Saturday 17 March 2018

Rafael Benitez: Newcastle still need players despite win over West Ham

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez still wants new faces
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez still wants new faces

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez remains unbowed in his search for new players despite seeing his team finally open their Premier League account with victory over West Ham.

A first goal from summer singing Joselu and two more from Ciaran Clark and Aleksandar Mitrovic secured a 3-0 victory at St James' Park to dispel some of the disquiet on Tyneside.

However, Benitez remains adamant that further additions to his squad are imperative if he is to keep the club in the top flight.

Asked if he still needed to do business, the Spaniard said: "Yes, we have to. Nothing changed in the first two games and nothing has changed now.

"We have a clear idea of what we want to do and will try to do it. I don't know if we can do everything. We will try to do the main things if we can."

Benitez's ongoing battle with owner Mike Ashley was pushed to one side for 90 minutes as the Magpies belatedly found their Premier League feet.

Joselu fired them into a 36th-minute lead and Clark's 82nd-minute header and a third from substitute Mitrovic four minutes from time completed a good afternoon.

Benitez said: "Everyone was talking about us after two games so it was important to start winning - we don't need to worry about that first goal or first win. Now we want the second one.

"It's always good to win, but especially the way we won, scoring three goals at home with a clean sheet and a great team effort, it was really positive."

Benitez's mood was in stark contrast to that of opposite number Slaven Bilic, who saw Declan Rice and then substitute Manuel Lanzini caught in possession for the first and second goals.

The Croatian has been under the spotlight in recent weeks and a third successive defeat, all of them away from home as a result of of the World Athletics Championships being held at the London Stadium, will do little to quell the speculation.

Bilic said: "Look, I am the manager, it's my job to be confident and to believe in good and bad times. Even when the times are bad, then you see the importance of the job more than in the good times. I haven't changed in that.

"They [Newcastle] were better in every aspect of the game. They had simply more power, more determination."

Bilic admitted he was worried by his side's performance on Tyneside and challenged his players to dig themselves out of the hole into which they have slipped.

He said: "I am worried. I'm not panicking, but...

"It's very early, but after the game against Southampton, we lost the game, we still had zero points but I was still very, very positive with the way we played, with the way we reacted after we were left with 10 men.

"This is different, this is worrying, but like for every club, it has its ups and downs and nobody will take us out of this situation but ourselves."

Meanwhile, Bilic admitted he had not seen an alleged elbow from Mitrovic on Lanzini as time ran down.

He said: "Well, I didn't see it - nobody saw it because it was after he gave the ball. Ah, what's the point of talking about that now?"

Press Association

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