Rafael Benitez explains why Newcastle have positives to take from near-misses against 'top six'

Newcastle have lost three of their opening four games - all by a 2-1 scoreline - to Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City

Mark Critchley
Sunday 02 September 2018 15:05
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Newcastle 2018/19 Premier League profile

Rafael Benitez wants his Newcastle United side to take hope from their challenging start to the Premier League season, despite finding themselves with just one point to their name after four games.

Saturday’s defeat at Manchester City was their third of the campaign so far and their third against a ‘top six’ team, following home reverses to Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.

Despite Benitez being criticised for taking a conservative approach to such ‘top six’ encounters, Newcastle ran all three opponents close, losing all three by a 2-1 scoreline.

Arsenal – another ‘top six’ club – are next for Newcastle, but Benitez believes his side can take positives from their performances into that game and expects an improvement.

“I think the positive is the way we were going at the end of these games with chances,” he said after the defeat to City. “That is something that helps in terms of the confidence of the team and they know, when you talk with them, that we were close.

“That is the positive, and that is also the message for the future. We have players know on the international break, but some players will stay there. We will analyse things. We will talk about what we did well and what we can improve on.

“We do that all the time, and you can see that the team is getting better. The performance in defence against Chelsea was really good. Today, against another fantastic team – they won the league by a massive distance – against this team, we were there.”

Benitez added: “Obviously, Arsenal will be tough, because it’s another top side, but maybe we have a little more chance. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s bad, because you take more risks, but you have to do it.”

Newcastle could not hold on for a point

Tensions between Benitez and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley persist after another frugal transfer window. The club made a net profit of more than £25m following the sales of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Mikel Merino and Chancel Mbemba among others.

Benitez would have liked to see the revenues reinvested in his squad in order to better compete with the Premier League’s leading clubs and must dream of having City’s wealth of resources at his disposal, but his long managerial has taught him to how to cut his cloth accordingly.

“I have been in different situations. I was coach at Extremadura, and we were in a position that was impossible. And I was coach at Real Madrid. Sometimes, when you have these kind of players, you don’t need to do too much,” he said.

“Because I have been on both sides, I know how important the manager is to these teams, so you have to try to do the right things all the time.

“You will make mistakes, because it depends on players in the end. You can make the right decision but a player makes a mistake and people still blame the manager.

“Fine. Fair enough. But you know that it’s really important to give them confidence, to give them the feeling that you know what you are trying to do. If you do that, and they train the way that they train, you will get results.”

Benitez added: “At the moment, you see that they [the big teams] are on another level, and you try to go as close as possible in one game. To win against them, everything has to be right for you, and they have to have some mistakes. It was not the case today, but hopefully next time.”

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