Why Rafa Benitez feels his Newcastle players can finally ‘relax’

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.
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Rafa Benitez says his Newcastle United players can “relax” after recording a fourth win in a row.

Benitez’s side are fourth in the Championship after Saturday’s 2-0 win over previously-unbeaten Brighton and Hove Albion.

While United’s manager feels there’s “room for improvement”, he feels those players not with their countries can “enjoy” the international break.

“We are doing well, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement,” said Benitez.

“We have the break now, we can relax and enjoy it a little bit. The players who will stay here with us, we will continue to work with them.

“Afterwards, when the others come back, we will continue too.

“But I’m really pleased, because we have some time to relax.

“At the same time, we can bring in players, finish the transfer window and start to concentrate on everything.”

Jonjo Shelvey capped his best performance so far this season with a goal.

Benitez fielded the midfielder, signed from Swansea City in January, higher up the pitch.

And Shelvey – who briefly crossed paths with Benitez at Liverpool – took advantage of the freedom he was given.

“For him, it’s a good position and to have the freedom to turnaround and dictate the tempo of the game,” said Benitez.

“He can play also as a second midfielder because he has the freedom to go forward.”

Benitez felt Shelvey combined well with Mohamed Diame and Matt Ritchie.

“Diame is also a player who is very good on the ball,” he said. “We also had Ritchie out there who can make things happen.

“We had players out there who can pass the ball and create.”