Rafa Benitez reveals his blueprint for Premier League survival at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez says he has an unshakeable belief in his Newcastle United team.

Monday, 12th March 2018, 7:19 am
Updated Monday, 12th March 2018, 7:25 am
Rafa Benitez and Mauricio Pellegrino

Benitez’s side beat Southampton 3-0 on Saturday to climb up to 13th place in the Premier League.

Kenedy struck twice and Matt Ritchie also found the net at St James’s Park.

Newcastle – who have a 21-day break between fixtures – are now five points clear of the relegation zone.

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Asked if the Southampton game had been a “must-win” fixture, Benitez said: “I don’t know if I said that, but it was an important game to win.

“When I do my maths, I don’t waste too much time thinking this one is a must-win (game).

“This was a fantastic game to win, but the main thing is, if you are not strong enough to win, that you are strong enough to draw.

“These games are ones you cannot lose. If you draw you both get a point but they remain where they are as well.

“To win, is great, we were strong enough to control the game, now it’s to the next game, and we have to be strong for that one as well.”

Since Christmas, only Manchester City and Liverpool have beaten United.

Asked if he was confident about staying up, manager Benitez said: “Yes, the one thing we have is confidence in our team.

“We work really hard and we are doing well.”

Meanwhile, Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino – who played for Benitez at Valencia and Liverpool and also served on his coaching staff at Anfield – is under increasing pressure.

“You have to win games, and to lose a game in the manner they did here ... he knows he will be under even more pressure,” said Benitez. “But he’s professional and he has a lot of experience.

“My point has always been, the way to stay up is to remain calm until the end.

“We’re confident in the system we play and in each other.

“The team has to be consistent and strong enough to approach every game thinking we can win three points. That’s it – not worrying about the last result all the time.”