Rafa Benitez reacts to Newcastle’s first win – and makes a bold pledge

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez insisted his Newcastle United team will only get better after the club finally got its Championship campaign up and running.

Benitez’s side beat Reading 4-1 in front of a crowd of 48,209 St James’s Park last night.

Dwight Gayle struck twice to take his tally to three goals from three games, and Isaac Hayden and Matt Ritchie also found the net, though the game was tighter than the scoreline suggested.

The result followed season-opening defeats to Huddersfield Town and Fulham

“We can still get much better,” said Benitez. “How much is difficult to quantify, but I am sure that we will improve.

“There will be some bad games for sure, but we will improve and play better. We had some good play at times, but we still have to improve.”

There will be some bad games for sure, but we will improve and play better.

Benitez – whose side take on Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Saturday – felt the result was all-important given what had happened in the club’s first 180 minutes in the Championship.

“It was very important for everyone to get three points, because we didn’t get anything from the first two games,” said Benitez, whose side conceded a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

“Even though while we didn’t play too well, we didn’t play too badly either. I thought we showed character and a good reaction after conceding the goal, and that is what we have to do.

“Sometimes we will play well, but we have to show character all the time.

“The result is always the most important thing, but the way you get the result can be important for the future.

“If you play well, you will have more possibilities to win games. But you have to win. We made another mistake and conceded a goal, but this time we scored four.”

United – who took the lead through Hayden’s 20th-minute strike – conceded in the 45th minute for the third successive game.

Debutant Ciaran Clark conceded a penalty which was converted by Garath McCleary. Ritchie netted a penalty after the break, and Gayle made certain of the points with his two goals.

Benitez said: “The reaction was really good. The team showed character in the second half.

“We can play better and be stronger, but it we can win in the meantime, that is good. I can keep working with the players every day, but it is always easier when you get three points.

“Hopefully, these three points will give us a bit of confidence for the next games.”