Rafa Benitez addresses calls for him to change Newcastle’s approach at home

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez says he won’t change his approach at St James’s Park in the wake of a fourth successive defeat.

The club has lost as many home games as Bristol City, Burton Albion and Barnsley.

It’s not just the way to be more direct. It could be a solution in one game, in a difficult game, but our way has to be to control games.

Rafa Benitez

Brighton and Hove Albion lead the division by two points after United’s Boxing Day defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

And Benitez admitted ahead of tonight’s Championship match against Nottingham Forest that his team would be “10 points clear” if second-placed Newcastle’s home form matched that away from St James’s Park.

United manager Benitez, however, is set to resist calls to start Aleksandar Mitrovic and play a more direct game while midfielder Jonjo Shelvey is suspended.

“If you play with Mitrovic or (Daryl) Murphy, for example, and play with one striker or two strikers, it’s not enough just to play them,” said Benitez.

“You have to give them good delivery. You need players to get to the byline and cross into the box. It’s not just enough to hit the ball up to them.

“We have to be a top side in this division. We have to play football – and we have to win.

“Winning games is better, but you have to play better.

“It’s not just the way to be more direct. It could be a solution in one game – in a difficult game – but our way has to be to control games.

“If you look at the numbers, we have scored more goals than anyone. We are the third-lowest team in terms of conceding goals.

“We are at the top of the table now with Brighton. Everything has been right, so why do we have to change our style and everything just because we are missing one player?

“We have to be sure we improve at home, but not by depending on one player.

The team has to take responsibility, and we have to be stronger mentally, technically and tactically when we approach these games.

“If you think about the last game we didn’t change too much. We have two or three options in our approach with the players we have but a team that before the game that was top, why do you have to change everything?”