DeAndre Yedlin reveals Rafa Benitez's message to his Newcastle players
When Rafa Benitez talks, Newcastle United's players listen.
And the club’s manager had a message for his players before they took on Southampton.
A fortnight earlier, Newcastle had led 2-0 against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium, only to conceded two goals in the last 10 minutes.
Benitez didn’t want to see his team drop any more points.
Newcastle went 2-0 up against Southampton at St James’s Park thanks to two first-half goals from Kenedy – and Matt Ritchie added a third after the break.
“That’s one of the things that Rafa kind of preached, that we needed to focus for the whole game and not just 80 minutes or even 85 minutes,” said United defender DeAndre Yedlin.
“It needs to be for 90 or 93 minutes, or whatever it might be. It needs to be for the whole game.
“That’s what we did. We stayed on top of them, stayed high. At 3-0 up we were staying high. It shows that we’re progressing and it’s come at a good time.”
The result, which followed last month’s 1-0 home win over Manchester United, took Newcastle up to 13th place in the Premier League ahead of a 21-day break between fixtures.
For Yedlin, the importance of the result – and performance – can’t be overstated.
“It was very important,” said the right-back.
“Obviously not only for the points, but to keep the momentum going. Two wins in two here, two big wins.
“It was good that we didn’t give up any goals and kept clean sheets in both games that we played here.
“We’re obviously very happy with the result, and are focused on the next game.”
St James’s Park was sold out, again, for the Southampton game.
And Yedlin believes the team “fed” off the energy of the crowd.
“It’s unbelievable,” said the 24-year-old, signed from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2016.
“It’s always a wonderful stadium to play in, and the fans were unbelievable again.
“We really fed off their energy, and they helped keep us going. We can’t thank them enough.”
Benitez has arranged a friendly against Belgian club Royal Antwerp on Sunday to fill the hole in the club’s fixture list.
The two teams will play three 45-minute periods in Spain.
And Yedlin and his team-mates will head to Murcia later this week for their four-day training camp in a positive frame of mind.
“It’s a big win,” said the USA international.
“It’s one of those things, you don’t want to go into this kind of break off a loss and even closer to the relegation zone.
“It boost us right up the table, and it was a great performance.”
Yedlin could be called up by the USA for their friendly against Paraguay in North Carolina on March 28.
The game comes three days before Newcastle take on Huddersfield Town at St James’s Park.
The USA failed to quality for the summer’s World Cup finals.