Rafa Benitez has a blunt message after Newcastle’s defeat to West Ham

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez says Newcastle United’s defeat has changed nothing – as he was NEVER targeting a top-half finish.

There were hopes that the club could push even further up the Premier League table after three successive wins.

We were not thinking about Europe. We knew the target is to stay in the Premier League, and every point is important.

Rafa Benitez

That run was brought to an end by Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to West Ham United.

Newcastle – who take on Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday night – ended the weekend in 15th place.

“We were not thinking about Europe,” said Benitez.

“We knew the target is to stay in the Premier League, and every point is important.

“It’s exactly the same now as it was before.

“I’m disappointed with the defeat, but we had chances to score which would have changed the game.

“We made mistakes that gave them confidence, and it made them more comfortable on the ball.”

Benitez, mindful of the money spent by West Ham, will “keep calm”.

“For sure, keep calm and carry on,” said United’s manager. “You have to consider it is just one game, against a good team who have a lot of quality up front. These players, they made the difference.

“We have to make sure in the next games, we’re solid and compact like we were before. We made mistakes in defence, and we didn’t take our chances in attack.”

Asked if it was good that Newcastle had a midweek game, Benitez said: “I hope so – we’ve lost and we have to change quickly.

“We have more competition for places, and we have to analyse, see how the players are and decide what to do.”

Meanwhile, West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini hailed his attacking quartet of Marko Arnautovic, Felipe Anderson, Robert Snodgrass and Javier Hernandez.

“Arnautovic, Anderson, Snodgrass and Hernandez, four players – all of them have quality, all of them have pace,” said Pellegrini. “They have ability – that’s the point.

“It wasn’t just one player today. The four offensive players – and the players in the middle – are quite good and will create problems against anyone.”