Papiss Cisse says Rafa Benitez has made Newcastle United a happier place – and the team is determined to get the fans smiling.
The club is second-bottom of the Premier League with four games left to play.
But Newcastle could climb out of the relegation zone on Saturday with a first league win over Liverpool at Anfield in 22 years.
The team was unlucky not to beat Manchester City at St James’s Park on Tuesday night – the sides drew 1-1 – and Cisse feels that Benitez, appointed manager last month, is getting the best out of the players.
Asked if the result had lifted confidence ahead of the Liverpool game, Cisse said: “Yes.
“It’s very, very hard, because one moment it’s difficult to get confidence when you’re working hard, but losing the game, and your head’s going down.
“But when the new gaffer came he’s made everybody happy and given the chance for everyone to show the people how he’d like everyone to play.
“Everyone has had this feeling to give 100% every time on the training ground and in the game.
“That is a good point too, because we have a connection with the gaffer. We speak to him and I think it’s a good thing.”
The City draw followed a 3-0 home win over Swansea City, and the hope on Tyneside is that the team is finding some momentum at the right time.
“It’s never going to be easy to go to Liverpool,” he said. “But we have a team now who is ready to play take on any team and we have to do so.”
Newcastle, however, have lost their last 10 games away from home in all competitions.
Asked about the away record, Cisse said: “We can change it.
“The work and the form we have at home, we have to take that into the away games. We need to do something at Anfield and try to win the game.”
Benitez talked about the “connection” between players and fans after the City match.
And Cisse, looking for his first goal since November, insists that the players are determined to re-establish trust with the club’s long-suffering supporters.
“It’s so important,” he said. “I know all the players and the team need the fans.
“The fans tried to do their best for us, and we tried to do our best to make the fans happy and to try to win the game because the position is not very good.
“But everyone knows that and we are trying to do something to make it better.”
United are yet to play Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur at home, and those two fixtures could prove decisive.
Reflecting on the atmosphere against City, Cisse said: “All the players like to play like this and have the fans behind you like at Newcastle.
“Always, I say that, for me, in the Premier League, Newcastle have the best fans.
“If I come to play in this stadium, I am always so happy to see the fans behind us. I just say to the fans that we have to keep going, because the players will keep going and working hard to get out of this.”