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Rafa Benitez responds to claims he's too negative about his Newcastle squad

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez says he's NOT being negative about his Newcastle United squad.

Benitez made it clear this summer that the club's No 1 target would be Premier League survival – despite last season's 10th-placed finish.

United's manager had to sell to buy in the transfer window after refusing to sign a new contract.

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Asked if it was a fine line between realism and negativity, Benitez said: "I'm quite positive. I'm really pleased with this group of players. They train, they work hard.

"We had a meeting after the game analysing the good things that we did and how we can improve. We have a lot of communication and hard work, and what I said before, we like what we do. We enjoy our job.

"For me, it's a challenge trying to improve players and to achieve what we want to achieve, to stay in the Premier League and maybe something more.

"At the beginning, I said before during the transfer window that you have to fight and try to bring the best for your club, not for me. After, you try to bring the best from your players."

Asked if he had imagined talking about staying up, again, when he joined the club, Benitez said: “But I'm sure that a journalist like you with another team would be saying 'you have to challenge for the title'.

“Why don't you ask me that? Because you are realistic, like me.

"We have to manage in a situation now that we cannot control and we have to bring the best one from each in this situation. That's it."

Newcastle are second-bottom ahead of this afternoon's Premier League game away to Crystal Palace.