Rafa Benitez says he is NOT a miracle worker at Newcastle United – but he believes hard work could have miraculous results at the club.
Benitez succeeded Steve McClaren at St James’s Park a fortnight ago.
And the 55-year-old – who started the season at Real Madrid – is relishing the challenge at the club, which is second-bottom of the Premier League with eight games left to play.
Benitez has been humbled by the reception he has had on Tyneside.
And the Spaniard is determined to repay the supporters’ faith between now and the end of the season.
Benitez is hopeful Newcastle can build on their second-half comeback in the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland last weekend, a rally which secured a 1-1 draw.
I cannot do miracles, but I want to work hard. I want to make sure that everybody is working hard, because that is the only way that we can do it.Rafa Benitez
Asked about the reaction to him in the city, Benitez said: “I can’t walk around too much, but the fans were good.
“Normally, I am in my hotel and they come and they say ‘oh, here’s Rafa – good luck!’
“After dinner (on Wednesday) in the restaurant, they were asking for pictures, and outside three or four people (said) ‘great reaction in the second half’.
“I don’t want to disrespect Steve (McClaren’s) team, because he was doing a good job, but the fans they have this hope – this belief – that now you can change things.
“I cannot do miracles, but I want to work hard.
“I want to make sure that everybody is working hard, because that is the only way that we can do it.”
Benitez has the club’s previously-disillusioned fans behind him, and the players are quickly taking on board his ideas.
Asked about the mood change on Tyneside, he said: “That gives me more responsibility, because I can see and hear them when they stop and take pictures.
“They believe that they have the opportunity that we will do well.
“I’m quite professional, and I want to do everything quite well now. I’m determined to do it after my start in this city.
“So I can see what I said before, I can see how important it is to stay up because we can improve things because it can be massive for the city, massive for the club, and massive for us.”
Benitez added: “The key is to stay calm, analyse things, make decisions and stay calm.”
Meanwhile, Benitez does not expect Massadio Haidara to be fit for the return to action at Norwich City next Saturday, after the left-back, on his way back from a long-term knee injury, suffered a setback yesterday.
Benitez is already without first-choice left-back Paul Dummett and the suspended Jack Colback, who has been used there in recent weeks.
“We don’t know yet, but he (Haidara) twisted his knee, so now we have to manage the situation we have,” said Benitez.
“Colback cannot play. I don’t think that he (Haidara) will be available. We’ll see the diagnosis of the doctor.”