Rafa Benitez cites Mike Tyson anecdote as he attempts to explain Newcastle’s poor starts

Newcastle United's Rafael Benitez.
Newcastle United's Rafael Benitez.

Rafa Benitez’s called on Newcastle United’s fans to help his team land a knockout blow on Crystal Palace.

Benitez’s side take on Crystal Palace at St James’s Park this afternoon in the first of what he has described as three “cup finals”.

I was reading the other day about Mike Tyson, who said ‘everybody has a plan when they fight again me, they jump around – until I punch them in the face’.

Rafa Benitez

Second-bottom Newcastle have often started poorly this season, and they had to come from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Liverpool at Anfield last weekend.

And it will be an emotionally-charged afternoon given that ex-United manager Alan Pardew is in charge of Palace.

Asked about Pardew’s likely reception on Tyneside, Benitez said: “Everyone will have their own opinion.

“But, for me, the main thing is once we start, they have to support the team like they have been doing in the past, because that makes a difference.

“It is one when they may have the feelings before (the match), but during the game, if everybody is just behind the players and focus on that and helping them, then I think that’ll be much better.

“They can do what they want (before the game), but after that, they know the main thing will be to support the team.

“I do not think the reaction of some Palace players will be different. They are used to playing away, and they will just approach the game as they always do.”

Newcastle also had to come from behind in their last home game – the 1-1 draw against Manchester City – and a positive start is all-important for Benitez.

Asked about his team’s poor starts, Benitez said: “Sometimes you prepare the games, you go out on to the pitch and you do everything and after one minute, the gameplan changes.

“But I was really pleased with the reaction of the players. To concede two goals at Anfield and they were playing well.

“We were talking on the bench about finding a solution. We changed the system a little bit at the end of the first half trying to control it a bit better, and then we changed Ayoze for Gini (Wijnaldum) in the second half.

“I was reading the other day about Mike Tyson, who said ‘everybody has a plan when they fight against me, they jump around – until I punch them in the face’.

“You go with a plan and then in the first minute, you concede a goal and you have to change everything, and that is the positive thing. We have reacted really well.”