Rafa Benitez reveals his half-season points target for Newcastle
Rafa Benitez has revealed his half-season target for Newcastle United.
Benitez’s side suffered a fourth successive defeat at the weekend.
Newcastle were beaten 3-0 by Watford at St James’s Park on Saturday – and the result saw the club drop down into 14th place in the table.
Benitez, however, still believes that the club is in a “good position” ahead of tomorrow night’s game against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.
United’s manager wants 20 points from the club’s first 19 games.
With 13 games played, the club has 14 points.
“It will be tough, but I still think we are in a good position,” said manager Benitez.
“If my target for the first half of the season is 20 points, and we have 14, we have to be sure we use these next six games to get those points and then try to improve in the second half of the season.
“We did really well at the beginning. Now we have to keep working with this group.
“They’re working really hard, but there is a lack of experience sometimes.
“I was telling them that we have to realise where we are and what we have to do for the future. We still have a few points to go to get 20 points in the first half of the season.”
Asked if confidence was an issue for his team, Benitez added:
“It’s important in any team, especially a young team,” said Benitez.
“When you’re winning, it gets easier. The only way is to stick together.
Meanwhile, Benitez doesn’t expect to have any more players back from injury for the West Brom match.
Midfielder Mikel Merino returned from a back problem against Watford.
However, Christian Atsu (thigh), Jamaal Lascelles (ankle) and Paul Dummett (hamstring) remain sidelined.
Benitez will have Isaac Hayden back from suspension at The Hawthorns.
The midfielder served a one-game ban against Watford after picking up five bookings.
Hayden is likely to return to the starting XI at the expense of Mohamed Diame.