Rafa Benitez believes Newcastle United are playing catch-up in the Premier League after a year in the Championship.
Benitez’s side were beaten 4-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Newcastle were the better team for 30 minutes – Dwight Gayle put them ahead – but the home team were in control by the break.
Benitez always knew it would be hard to get a result at Old Trafford given the phenomenal sums spent by Man United in recent seasons.
Newcastle, like the other newly-promoted teams, are short of Premier League quality in key areas.
“It’s very hard to get away from the money situation,” said manager Benitez.
“For a newly-promoted team like us, it’s always going to be difficult because we haven’t had the same level of money for the last couple of years. That’s a massive thing.”
“Then the teams at the top of the table, they have that money, plus all the extra money from the TV and the Champions League.
“Plus the money they already had before. That’s a big difference.”
Asked if Newcastle were a few players short of being genuinely competitive in the Premier League, Benitez said: “I think we’re doing well.
“With the players we have, I think we’re doing quite well, although it could be better.
“Could it be better? Yes, for sure. But it could also be worse.
“I’m really pleased with what I have seen in the first half (at Old Trafford), and really proud of this group of players.
“Obviously, we know that we have to improve some things if we want to be consistent in terms of getting results.
“But we knew before, and we know now, and we’ll know the same in a couple of months.
“It’s a tough competition, and we know we have to keep improving.”
Meanwhile, Peter Beardsley’s Newcastle’s Under-23s take on Reading at Whitley Park tonight (7pm kick-off) in a Premier League 2 fixture.