Christian Atsu reveals the inside story from Newcastle United's dressing room

Christian Atsu says Newcastle United fans deserve better at St James’s Park.

By Miles Starforth
Friday, 25th January 2019, 6:30 am
Updated Friday, 25th January 2019, 6:38 am
Christian Atsu.
Christian Atsu.

Rafa Benitez’s side claimed a third Premier League win at home last weekend.

Atsu was in the side which beat Cardiff City 3-0.

The result lifted the club out of the Premier League’s relegation zone ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup tie against Watford at St James’s Park.

“Our fantastic fans always support the team, and we want to fight for the fans every time we play at St James’s Park,” said Atsu. “We get 52,000 every week – they deserve more. We’ve shown we want to make them happy, and the win was for them.”

Newcastle beat Blackburn Rovers 4-2 at Ewood Park in a third-round replay last week.

And that result lifted a dressing room which had been hit hard by some recent defeats, according to Atsu.

The winger said: “These players care so much for this team. When we lose games, you really have no idea what the dressing room looks like. You don’t know how we feel when we go home – it’s like the whole week is miserable.

“You don’t know how to get it out of your mind, and you don’t know what to do to make yourself feel better. We just want to see another game, so we can do our best and win the next game.

“This is what we do for a living, and we have to be better and try to win more often. Everybody cares for this team, and we just need to work harder and we will achieve what we want to achieve.”

Benitez has made it clear Premier League survival is his over-riding priority this season. United’s manager doesn’t believe his team has a chance of winning the FA Cup given a lack of squad strength and depth compared to other top-flight teams.

Atsu, however, wants to reward fans with a run in the competition.

“Every game for us is important,” said the 27-year-old.

“The fans want to see us win each and every game, which is why they always turn up in their tens of thousands – home and away. It’s not just a cup game – we want to win for the fans, so we will be prepared for that.”

Atsu had a slow start to the season following knee surgery at the end of last season.

The Ghana international said: “I’m getting more confident, but I’ve still not reached my level. I’m working hard for the team and trying to keep improving, but, for me, what’s more important is the team winning.

“I haven’t started playing because others have played badly – I’m getting a chance because we had injuries and I worked hard. I hope Kenedy is back soon, because we need each and every one in the squad at this stage of the league. I’m praying everyone comes back soon and we start winning games regularly.”

With Kenedy sidelined, Atsu played 90 minutes against Cardiff. United remain unbeaten against the bottom seven teams in the league.

“It was a fantastic win for the team – we played very well,” said Atsu. “A clean sheet was very important for the team, too. We always put in our head that we have to win against the teams who are fighting in the relegation battle with us.

“We work really hard on those. We try to win every game, like we put in a great effort against Chelsea, but in this game it was very important for the team. We worked really hard, Cardiff couldn’t create any chances, we were defensively good and we attacked very well, too.”

Fabian Schar opened the scoring with a superb individual effort and the defender also netted the club’s second goal.

“I did actually think Fabian could score from there, because we’d watched videos of Cardiff, and Rafa thought that their forward players man-mark, so we could get past them,” said Atsu.

“Fabian took the ball from the centre-back position, jogged forward, we opened space and him, and they were following us so left him. Then he scored. So credit to Rafa for a great job of identifying that

“The second goal gave us room, too. Honestly, Fabian is technically good. Offensively, he’s also very good as well. In training he scores like this often, so it’s no surprise for me seeing him doing this.”

Atsu believes the club, which is 18th in the division, is in a false position.

“I believe we shouldn’t be down at the bottom because, if you watched our games, we play well, we create chances, and then sometimes this season we have been unlucky in most of the games,” said Atsu.

“But this is the league we’re playing in. We just need to keep working hard, and we have to face the reality that we’re in the relegation battle, accept it and fight.”