Rafa Benitez reveals what he told his Newcastle players at Hillsborough

Steven Fletcher celebrates
Steven Fletcher celebrates
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Rafa Benitez has revealed what he told his players after Newcastle United’s defeat at Hillsborough.

Benitez’s side was beaten 2-1 by Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

We were making these kinds of mistakes that we cannot afford, and I told them that.

Rafa Benitez

And the result left the club two points behind Championship leaders Brighton and Hove Albion ahead of the Good Friday home game against Leeds United.

Benitez was unhappy with the mistakes his team made against Wednesday, who dominated the first half and netted twice after the break.

Jonjo Shelvey scored late in the game as Newcastle rallied.

United’s manager was infuriated by the needless free-kick, conceded by Yoan Gouffran, that led to Tom Lees’ opening goal.

Lees got the better of four Newcastle defenders to head home, and Steven Fletcher beat Jamaal Lascelles to head their second.

Asked what he had said to his players, Benitez said: “We were making these kinds of mistakes that we cannot afford, and I told them that.

“But at the same time I told them ‘we have five games to play. We must put our chins up and prepare for the next games.”

United remain 10 points ahead of third-placed Huddersfield Town with five games left to play.

And Newcastle’s destiny is still firmly in their own hands.

“That’s good – 100%,” said Benitez. “No doubt about that.

“I have confidence in the team, for sure, but we have to improve these kinds of performances, because if not then you will put yourselves under pressure.”

Benitez said his players needed to “wake up” in his post-match press conference.

Asked what he meant, he said: “It means that when you play these kind of games, you have to start from the beginning and focus and concentrate. We were talking about that, but we made too many mistakes.

“We gave them the hope they could carry on. If you look at the chances they had, they were our mistakes.

“We have been talking about that. It was an opportunity that we had to be sure we could take, but now we must wake up.”

Asked if there was any complacency, he said: “We made mistakes and that’s it.”