Rafa Benitez has pleaded with Newcastle United’s fans to stay behind his players at St James’s Park – and help the team turn around their woeful home form.
The club, which takes on Cardiff City this afternoon, has lost eight Premier League home games so far this season.
Only rock-bottom Huddersfield Town have a worse home record than 18th-placed Newcastle, who have only picked up seven points at St James’s Park.
Benitez, however, feels the team played better in some of the defeats than they did in the wins over Watford and Bournemouth.
“I was not happy with the games against Watford and Bournemouth when we won – I was more pleased with Manchester United and Brighton, when we lost,” said Benitez, Newcastle’s manager.
“We were lucky enough to take the chances we had, and they did not. In the other games, we were not lucky enough. Brighton, 27 attempts at home and you lose 1-0. We deserved to win. But people don’t remember how you played.”
I was not happy with the games against Watford and Bournemouth when we won – I was more pleased with Manchester United and Brighton, when we lost.Rafa Benitez
Asked if he would change things, Benitez said: “Depending on the players you have, you have to manage. But you have to adapt depending on other teams.”
Benitez is adamant that his players, in contrast to some of their predecessors, genuinely “care” about the club.
“You want to win, because you have 52,000 fans behind you,” said Benitez.
“But I was clear with my message – Cardiff City will come and will say ‘we have to be strong at the beginning and the fans will get on top of the players’.
“That’s very clear. It was the same in the Championship. We have to support these players. They care. They can be good or bad, but they still care. If we stick together they will feel the confidence from the fans and will be better.
“Maybe one game can make the difference, and we can stay up. Maybe that will be Cardiff.”
Asked if the club’s home record hurt him, Benitez said: “Can I change it? I will try, that’s it.”
Benitez doesn’t believe the anti-Mike Ashley sentiment on Tyneside, and protests and chants against the club’s owner, have had a negative impact on performances at St James’s Park.
“You remember last year, we did well at home,” said Benitez. “We won some games and when you talk about the past, for sure, when you have very good players and are on top of teams and you’re attacking, you can create chances and you have good players up front you can make the difference.
“When you go to another level – the Premier League is getting better and better – then you cannot compete with that. Tell me 27 attempts isn’t enough to win a game, then you lose. That tells you that the defenders are better and you have to create better chances if you want to score more goals.
“When we won against Manchester United last year we were in a difficult situation. The fans were behind the team because we did well. These players – they care. And the fans understand that and the majority of the fans support these players for that.”