Rafa Benitez assesses the cost of Newcastle's home failures

Matt Ritchie
Matt Ritchie

Rafa Benitez believes Newcastle United would be 10 points clear at the top of the Championship if his team's home form was better.

Benitez's side lost on home turf for the fourth time this season on Boxing Day.

And Brighton and Hove Albion took the lead the following day after beating Queens Park Rangers at the Amex Stadium.

United have fared better away from home this season, and manager Benitez is looking for his team to improve at St James's Park ahead of tomorrow night's game against Nottingham Forest at a sold-out St James's Park.

"I’m really pleased with the away form," said Benitez.

"When you are doing so well away, if we were doing as well at home we would be 10 points clear.

"We know it’s a difficult league, and when teams come to our stadium they try that bit harder. They play very compact and narrow and play on the counter-attack.

"We have to learn how to cope with these games. If you cannot win, you must draw. It is something we still have to learn."

Benitez believes there is now extra pressure on Brighton, managed by ex-Newcastle manager Chris Hughton.

“Maybe every team that plays against Brighton will see it as an opportunity to show something, like they have done with us," said Benitez.

"Maybe there will be more pressure on Brighton now. Let’s see how teams approach it."