Rafa Benitez says unity is strength for Newcastle United at St James’s Park.
And the manager is looking for his team to win all five of their remaining home games – with a little help from supporters.
We have five games to go at home. If you win the five games at home, then we will be in the Premier League next year.Rafa Benitez
Benitez’s counter-attacking side have fared better away from home this season.
Newcastle, at times, have struggled to break down organised and stubborn opposition at St James’s Park, where they have been beaten five times.
But upbeat Benitez doesn’t see why the Championship leaders – who take on struggling Wigan Athletic at the stadium this afternoon – can’t claim 15 points from their final home fixtures.
Newcastle’s manager, however, has called on the supporters to be passionate AND patient.
“They (the fans) have been fantastic all season,” said Benitez.
“We have five games to go at home. If you win the five games at home, then we will be in the Premier League next year.
“So they have to do everything to support their team.
“You can talk about tactics, scouting or team selection – whatever you want to criticise at the end – but now is the time to stick together and get three points.
“It doesn’t matter who is playing well or who is not.
“After the season, we can debate and analyse all of that.”
Asked about the importance of unity, Benitez added: “It’s massive.
“The fans, the city – everyone – needs to be united with five games left at home and three away.
“We have a league of eight games.
“Come on, let’s win that.”
Benitez does not believe there is a fear factor for his players at St James’s Park, where the average attendance has been 51,110.
“We have a lot of explanations if you want, but, in the end, it doesn’t matter what you think – it matters what you do on the pitch,” said Benitez.
“What we have is 52,000 fans supporting the team, supporting the team, pushing them and expecting them to play well.
“Then you play against teams that are deep, that try and play counter-attack, so you have to be very precise with your passing and then everybody can be a little bit nervous if you give it away.”