Rafa Benitez says there’s still a lot of “room for improvement” at Newcastle United.
Benitez’s side beat Rotherham United 1-0 at the AESSEAL New York Stadium on Saturday thanks to a goal from Christian Atsu.
Alan Stubbs’ side made life hard for Newcastle, and Benitez was forced into making a tactical change midway through the first half to stifle Izzy Brown, on loan from Chelsea.
Third-placed Newcastle, however, couldn’t add to their advantage, and they had an uncomfortable final few minutes.
Asked if his team was a work in progress, Benitez said: “Definitely, 100%.
“I’m really pleased with them, but still there is room for improvement. It is obvious and very clear.
I’m really pleased with them, but still there is room for improvement. It is obvious and very clear.Rafa Benitez
“If we can keep winning games while we improve, then even better.
“But still we must keep working hard to do this and to get better because there’s still room for improvement.”
Benitez was heartened by his team’s defending at the New York Stadium.
A week earlier against Aston Villa at Villa Park, Newcastle had lost two points after conceding an 88th-minute goal.
“I cannot see too many teams defending corners and these kind of long throw-ins that Rotherham had without having at least some problems,” said Benitez.
“We had chances on the counter attack and that’s important too.
“When you’re playing against a good team you have to keep pressing to stop them from creating chances.”
The victory followed a dramatic 4-3 win over Norwich City at St James’s Park last week.
“It’s vital to have the right mentality,” said Benitez.
“After these kind of games, when we’ve come from behind in the final moments and everybody is so happy, talking too much about how the team is doing this, or doing that, it’s important to tell the players ‘look, we have had this problem so we have to stay concentrated and focused’.
“We did it against a good team who were pushing and pressing, particularly in the first 20 minutes when they made it quite difficult.
“Then we started reacting better and improved and got the win.”