Rafa Benitez reacts to Jacob Murphy's superb performance against Stoke

Rafa Benitez saw Jacob Murphy play his best game yet for Newcastle United '“ then insisted the winger must improve.

Jacob Murphy.
Jacob Murphy.

Murphy was superb in yesterday’s 1-0 win over Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium.

The 22-year-old set up the winning goal scored by Ayoze Perez.

The result saw United move up to 13th place in the Premier League.

Murphy, signed from Norwich City in the summer for £12million, is steadily finding his feet at the club after a difficult first few months.

Asked about Murphy’s performance against Stoke, Benitez said: “He’s a young player who’s learning how to understand the game, and also learning about the pace of the Premier League.

“He’s doing some good things, but he still has plenty of room for improvement.”

Murphy was Benitez’s most expensive summer signing.

And United’s manager is hoping for more arrivals in this month’s transfer window.

“We are trying to do our best, and we will see what can happen,” said Benitez. “But now it’s about enjoying (the Stoke win) and trying to concentrate on the next game. Everyone has to do his job.”

Newcastle were loudly backed by 3,168 travelling fans on New Year’s Day.

“The fans were really good,” said Benitez. “We have seen the fans away last year and this year, they’re fantastic.

“When they travel so far away, it’s a perfect day when you win and score and can celebrate in front of them.

“They will go back home with a smile on their faces.

“They were giving their support to our players, and maybe that made the players give a little bit more, if that’s possible.”

United’s fans saw a committed performance from their team.

Benitez said: “I don’t like to see the team defending and not taking the chances that we had on the counter-attack, but if you cannot do that, then you have to defend in the way that we did in the last few minutes.

“That’s the kind of team spirit that you are expecting from a team that is desperate to avoid relegation and stay in the Premier League.”