Rafa Benitez reveals what he told a ‘sleeping’ Mohamed Diame at Newcastle

Mo Diame had an improved game on Saturday
Mo Diame had an improved game on Saturday

Rafa Benitez has revealed what he told a “sleeping” Mohamed Diame – after watching him awaken against Birmingham City.

Diame was outstanding in Newcastle United’s 4-0 win over Birmingham City on Saturday.

The midfielder, signed from Hull City in the summer, candidly admitted late last month that he “needed to wake up”.

Benitez defended Diame in public at the time.

And United’s manager also spoke to the 29-year-old in private that he had been “too honest”.

Diame – who scored the goal that took Hull City into the Premier League last season – was a powerhouse in midfield against Birmingham.

It was a bad week so we needed to put things right by scoring goals and playing good football, which we did.

Rafa Benitez

The 29-year-old had a hand in Dwight Gayle’s two first-half goals.

And Benitez said: “I said to him he was too honest when he said about him sleeping too much since he’s been here.

“Sometimes players, media Press and fans think the players have to score goals, but sometimes it’s just about working hard and getting to the level that you know they have.”

Gayle also netted in the second half to complete his second hat-trick for the club and take his goal tally for the season to 16.

Asked if Gayle could score 30 goals, Benitez said: “Hopefully. But I think you have to talk about how difficult (the Championship) is.

“If they know who is the top scorer, maybe they will be more aware (of his threat), and it will be more difficult for him.

“We just have to keep making and creating chances.

“He can play maybe even more games if you want to push him, but why take risks if you’ve got the players to bring on?

“In Dwight’s case, with the kind of player he is, his movement makes him different to the other strikers.”

Gayle, signed from Crystal Palace in the summer for £10million, is a player who has already proved he can score in the Premier League.

Benitez said: “Hopefully, he can score lots in the Championship, and then we can think about the Premier League.”

An improving Birmingham were caught cold by Newcastle, who took the game to them in the early minutes.

Jonjo Shelvey dictated the game from midfield.

On Birmingham, Benitez added: “They are a good team but they probably didn’t expect us to start the game as fast with this intensity to make it difficult for them.”

The game ended a run of three successive league and cup defeats and saw the club return to the top of the Championship.

“It was a bad week, so we needed to put things right by scoring goals and playing good football which we did,” said Benitez.

“There were a lot of positives from this game with players performing at a very good level, which is what we expect.

“The players they knew we needed to perform and to do well. We were talking about the fans, and trying to play well from the beginning to keep the fans behind the team.”

Brighton and Hove Albion had climbed above United in the table on Friday night.

Benitez said: “They realised it was an important game in terms of changing things.

“We didn’t mention the Brighton game, to be honest. The aim is to get three points whenever we can, and then see where we are in the table.

“The league is a long, long race. In April we have seven games and in May you have one, so it’s eight games and 24 points to play for from April onwards, so let’s keep on doing the right things, and if we are higher than the other teams, fine but we have to keep doing the right things.

“We know how competitive this division is and how good Brighton are. We have to be consistent. You know can make mistakes, but we have to be consistent if you’re fighting for the table.