Moussa Sissoko: Newcastle are BETTER off with Rafa Benitez!
Moussa Sissoko feels Newcastle United have a better chance of staying up after dismissing Steve McClaren and replacing him with Rafa Benitez.
The relegation-threatened club is second-bottom of the Premier League and a point adrift of safety.
Newcastle’s dismal form this season cost McClaren his job as head coach last week.
United lost Benitez’s first game in charge – they were beaten 1-0 by league leaders Leicester City on Monday night – and the team are now preparing for Sunday’s hugely-important Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland.
Asked if the club had a better chance of staying up with the Spaniard in charge, the midfielder said: “Yes, of course. When you look at the squad, we are a very good team.
“It was a start (at Leicester). We did well, but the result wasn’t good.
“We have some positive things – that’s good. Now we need to keep going for the next game.”
Benitez cancelled his players’ day off after his appointment last Friday, and the 55-year-old oversaw three training sessions before the Leicester game.
“We trained three sessions with him – it was good,” said Sissoko, who was booed off the pitch by unhappy fans during McClaren’s last game in charge.
“I think he has brought his experience, so that is good for us. We are working again this week because he is a fantastic manager, and I think he can help us to stay in the Premier League for next season.”
Sissoko admits the squad were “surprised” to see Benitez take charge at St James’s Park given that he’s normally in charge of clubs challenging for trophies. “We were surprised to see him to come to Newcastle, because normally he plays every years for the title and the Champions League,” said the 26-year-old.
“He came to us so we are all happy. Now we have nine games left with him, he will bring his experience, so we hope be in the Premier League with him next season.
“To do that, we need to win next Sunday.”
Asked what Benitez’s main message to the squad was, Sissoko added: “He said that we have a lot of players of quality in this team, and that we have a good team with some top players and that’s why he came here.
“He believes we will stay in the Premier League.”
Sissoko, yet to score this season, felt Newcastle were more “consistent” against Leicester.
McClaren had tried – and failed – to bring consistency to the team’s performances during his nine-month tenure. Sissoko said: “From the beginning of the season, we played well in some games.
“But most of the time we weren’t good for 95 minutes but we were consistent for 95 minutes at Leicester, so that’s good and we need to carry it on for the next game.”
Sissoko believes United can improve quickly under the guidance of Benitez.
“He has worked with a lot of teams – Madrid, Napoli and Liverpool – we need to listen,” said Sissoko. “He’s one of the best managers in the world.”