Rafa Benitez: My Newcastle players are ‘down’ – but NOT out!

Newcastle United's Aleksandar Mitrovic (centre left) and Georginio Wijnaldum are left dejected on the pitch after the final whistle
Newcastle United's Aleksandar Mitrovic (centre left) and Georginio Wijnaldum are left dejected on the pitch after the final whistle
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Rafa Benitez’s admits his Newcastle United players are down – but he insists they are NOT out.

The club took another lurch towards the Championship at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game

An injury-time goal from Martin Olsson saw relegation rivals Norwich City win 3-2.

And the result has left Newcastle 19th in the Premier League and SIX points adrift of safety ahead of Saturday’s game against Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.

United manager Benitez admitted his players’ heads were “a little bit down” after the match.

But he feels there were positives to take out of a club-record eighth successive Premier League away defeat.

When you have just lost a game like this one, you have to be a little bit down. But my job is to give them the confidence.

Rafa Benitez

“After the game, everybody’s heads were a little bit down,” said Benitez.

“But I was telling them ‘listen, we have to manage the momentum of the game much better, the bits when we were attacking and then in the last minute when we had to defend well’.

“That is part of the work I have to do every week, give them some tips so they know what to do when they are under pressure and it is maybe more difficult to think.”

Newcastle twice came from behind at Carrow Road thanks to goals from substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Rafa Benitez makes his point during the game at Carrow Road

Rafa Benitez makes his point during the game at Carrow Road

And the game looking to be heading for a draw after Mitrovic converted an 86th-minute penalty.

But United failed to see out the game, and Olsson’s strike – which followed a superb John Ruddy save from Papiss Cisse – claimed all three points for Alex Neil’s side.

While Newcastle, for the second game running, were dreadful before the break, they improved in the second half.

And Benitez was heartened by his team’s “reaction” after the interval.

Dieumerci Mbokani scores his side's second goal of the game

Dieumerci Mbokani scores his side's second goal of the game

“When you have just lost a game like this one, you have to be a little bit down,” said Benitez.

“But my job is to give them the confidence, enough confidence for the next games and to lift them because I think the reaction was quite positive in the second half.

“Obviously, we can’t wait for another reaction, we have to start the games in the right way and try to score goals and win games.

“But the one thing that we’ll take as a positive is the reaction of the team, scoring two goals away from home, and see if we can keep this way of playing for the next seven games.”

After a positive opening, United were quickly put on the back foot by Norwich.

Benitez said: “A game is not the same as a training session, but I would say that for the first ten minutes we started well – everything was fine – and then we made two or three mistakes.

“We were talking about that – that we cannot do that. We have to play simple and have more confidence.

“But when you make these mistakes in the position that you are it becomes more difficult.

“We conceded a late goal with a free kick we could have maybe avoided and after the reaction in the second half was what I was expecting to see from my team.

“Then there was another mistake and these things are what we have to manage if we want to win more points and stay up.”

Newcastle last claimed points away from home in December, when they beat Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

“We have one week, and players are coming back so we will have to see how they are and just keep training,” said Benitez.