Rafa Benitez reveals why he is STILL hopeful Newcastle can stay up
Rafa Benitez says home advantage can make all the difference to Newcastle United's hopes of staying up.
Four of the relegation-threatened club’s final six matches are at St James’s Park.
And Benitez’s second-bottom side desperately need to beat Swansea City on home turf on Saturday to keep their faint hopes of Premier League survival alive.
Newcastle were convincingly beaten 3-1 by Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday.
For the third successive game, United started badly – Shane Long opened the scoring in the fourth minute – and Benitez labelled the team’s first-half performance as “terrible”.
Benitez, hoping for huge improvement against Swansea, has pleaded with Newcastle fans to stick by his side.
“The only thing we can take as a positive is the reaction and we play four games at home,” said Newcastle’s manager.
“The fans will realise that we need them to support the team at the end of the season.
“Now is the time to criticise what we have done badly and concentrate on the next game and the positives and try to push the players in terms of they have to do better, a little bit more, and also give them some confidence.
“It depends on them. In the end, it depends on us. It depends on the fans and their support and if they can give the players a bit of a lift.”
United’s support has had little to cheer home or away this season, yet the club’s home gates average around 50,000.
“We need the fans behind the team,” said Benitez, whose side is six points adrift of safety.
“We will try to push them (the players) in training sessions.
“Hopefully, they can show the level they have, and the level they showed in the second half, against Swansea from the beginning.
“They are crucial for us. The away form is not the best. That is obvious.
“You can see the team plays with too much anxiety.
“We need to improve at home. We need to get a result at home. Hopefully everything we change.”
Asked if the Swansea fixture was a “must-win game”, he added: “I think almost every game we have to approach them and think that is a must-win game.
“But we cannot know what the other teams will do.
“If they win some games, maybe it will be easier and it will be enough with four wins.
“Maybe, if they keep winning games it will be five. So then if you lose, it doesn’t matter, so we have to approach every game like a must-win game.”