Rafa Benitez hints at future as he assesses his Newcastle players

Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid
Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid

Rafa Benitez says he’s got to know his players even better this season in the face of adversity.

Newcastle United won the Championship last season. And manager Benitez – whose 12th-placed side take on Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday – has been studying them closely this season in the Premier League.

It’s always good when you test your players in difficult situations.

Rafa Benitez

Asked what he had learnt about his players since last summer, Benitez said: “Obviously, we changed some players, and some of them, they have been improving a lot – that’s really important for your thinking about the future – and some of them, you know them a little bit better, how they react when something is right, something is wrong.

“We are learning a lot of things from them.”

Benitez’s side had to come through a difficult period late last year. Since December, Newcastle have steadily picked up points, and last weekend’s 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town put them seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Asked if he had been impressed with the character shown, Benitez said: “Yes. Some of them, maybe they were more affected, but a group of them were quite strong. All together, they reacted really well.

“It’s always good when you test your players in difficult situations.”