Rafa Benitez reacts to Mike Ashley's latest appearance at a Newcastle game
Rafa Benitez says the next three months will make or break Newcastle United's season.
The club is 19th in the Premier League after failing to win any of its first eight games.
Manchester United came from two goals down to beat Benitez’s side 3-2 at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Newcastle have played five of last season’s top six so far this season, and Benitez is looking for his team to capitalise on a run of more winnable fixtures between now and the New Year.
“For me, the next three months will be crucial,” said manager Benitez.
“We have important games in October and November, and then there are a lot of games in December.
“In the next three months, we’re going to be playing against a lot of teams who are around us, and at our level.
“We have to go and pick up the points from these games.
“By the end of December, we will see where we are.
“I think we will have a better idea about the possibilities of the season by then, but I still have confidence in these players.
“In December last year, we were in the bottom five, but we still managed to finish 10th.
“It’s about carrying on and doing the same things we did to turn things around then.”
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley watched the team for the third successive game.
Ashley sat with managing director Lee Charnley and associates Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop.
“I think everybody can see where we’re at – it’s not just Mike Ashley,” said Benitez, who had a meal with Ashley and his players last week.
“Everybody can see that the team’s working so hard and doing so many good things, but we were playing against one of the top six, and you cannot compete against them player for player during 90 minutes.
“We have to do everything well as a team, and we did it. But when you make mistakes, they score and the game changes.”