Rafa Benitez has challenged his Newcastle United players to right the wrongs of Newcastle United’s damaging defeat at Portman Road.
Ipswich Town deservedly beat Benitez’s second-placed side 3-1 yesterday.
And the result has left Benitez and his players looking over their shoulders at Reading and Huddersfield Town in third and fourth place respectively.
Huddersfield’s 1-1 draw against Derby County saw Championship leaders Brighton and Hove Albion – who beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 – promoted to the Premier League.
United, however, still have a lot of work to do in their three remaining games.
Benitez said his team was “not focused and mentally ready” for the Ipswich game, which followed a 1-1 home draw against Leeds United.
Asked why they were not ready, Newcastle’s manager said: “It is difficult to explain. We will analyse, but that is the reality.
“I am not a manager that will be blaming players here in the press conference.
“We know what I told them at half-time and at the end. We know that something was wrong.
“Now we have to analyse this and change quickly. We have played so many good games during the season – now we have to get back to playing at the level we were playing at before.”
Benitez said he and his players must share the responsibility for what happened at Portman Road, where Daryl Murphy netted against his former club.
“We all have to take responsibility,” said Benitez, whose side are seven points behind Brighton.
“We win together and we lose together, and now we have to be sure that in the next game (against Preston North End on April 24) we will win together.
“Brighton have been in this situation challenging for promotion four times in the last five years. This is the fifth time that they have been in this position. Does that make a difference? It is simple.”
Asked if it had been United’s worst performance under his tenure, Benitez said: “To be honest, I don’t know.
“We lost, and that is it. We are disappointed because of that.
“I thought at half-time that we could do it, even though we were 1-0 down. I had confidence, because so many games have proved we can do it.”