Rafa Benitez will not allow promoted Newcastle to head for the beach just yet as he targets the Championship title – and a new club record.
Victory at Cardiff City tonight would leave Benitez’s side just a point adrift of leaders Brighton, who would then need to beat Bristol City the following day to prevent the race for top spot from going down to the final day of the campaign.
If we win this game, we will break the record in the history of the club for away wins, so we will try to do it.Rafa Benitez
Benitez’s men have won 13 times on the road in the league already this season, and a 14th would set a new high for the club.
“If we win this game, we will break the record in the history of the club for away wins, so we will try to do it,” said Benitez.
“If we win our games and Brighton make a mistake, we can be champions. We will try to do it.”
Benitez will rest several members of his squad who have been playing with knocks, and was both happy and relieved to have tied up promotion back to the Premier League with two games to spare after a late-season wobble.
Only Burnley have done that at the first attempt in the wake of relegation since Newcastle themselves did it seven years ago, and he believes that is a notable achievement for a squad which underwent a radical overhaul last summer.
Benitez said: “What we have achieved is very, very important for everyone here, because as I have said before, in the last five or six years, just one team had been promoted straight after relegation, so to do that with two games to play for me means that was a great achievement.
“These players deserve credit for that, and to have all the city behind the team has also been really good and I am really pleased with that.”
However, Cardiff manager Neil Warnock would like nothing better than to wipe the smiles of the faces of the travelling Toon Army.
Warnock said: “We just have pride at stake.
“We need to put a good performance on in front of the TV cameras.”