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Did Newcastle’s players lose their heads? Rafa Benitez has his say

Javier Manquillo struggled against Cardiff City's Josh Murphy and was booked, before being subbed.
Javier Manquillo struggled against Cardiff City's Josh Murphy and was booked, before being subbed.

Rafa Benitez insisted that his players did not lose their heads against Cardiff City.

Isaac Hayden was sent off for a tackle from behind on Josh Murphy, while Kenedy could be punished retrospectively for kicking out at Victor Camarasa. Kenedy went on to miss a 95th-minute penalty, and the game ended goalless.

I told the players that we have to fight in every game, and fight until the end of the season. It’s a simple message, but it’s also a very clear one.

Rafa Benitez

“I don’t think the players lost control,” said United manager Benitez. “I just think this was a game at the beginning of the season, which is always more difficult, especially when you have done well last season, you – as players – need to realise that everyone’s stronger.

“Other teams have spent a lot of money on players, so it’s a new competition and we have to reach the same standards, if not higher, again.”

Benitez had warned his players that they were in for a physical game at the Cardiff City Stadium.

“I told the players that we have to fight in every game, and fight until the end of the season,” said Benitez.

“It’s a simple message, but it’s also a very clear one. For us, these kind of games that are physical, when from the first minute we were making mistakes – and then we improved – it’s only going to difficult.

“When we went down to 10 men, it was even tougher, and we had to show even more fight. We have to work really hard and try to use the quality we have to make the difference in these types of games if we can.”

Newcastle, beaten by Tottenham Hotspur on the opening weekend of the season, face Chelsea at St James’s Park on Sunday. That fixture is followed by games against Manchester City and Arsenal.

“We know that every game is different, and the next games are against top sides,” said Benitez. “We have to have a different approach to those games, and hopefully we can manage in the way that we managed some of these games last year.

“But every game, and every season, is different. We have the belief and confidence that, if we work very, very hard, we can get results.”