Rafa Benitez reveals what he told his Newcastle players at the break against Sunderland

Manager Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle United bench celebrate Aleksandar Mitrovic scoring the equalising goal..
Manager Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle United bench celebrate Aleksandar Mitrovic scoring the equalising goal..

Rafa Benitez said he did NOT blow his top at half time in the Tyne-Wear derby.

Newcastle United trailed Sunderland 1-0 at the break yesterday.

Benitez’s relegation-threatened side were second-best in the first half, and the visitors deservedly took the lead in the 44th minute through Jermain Defoe.

But Aleksandar Mitrovic claimed what could prove a hugely-important point with a headed equaliser seven minutes before the of normal time.

The game was Benitez’s first at home since taking over as manager.

And the 55-year-old has revealed what he said to his players at the interval.

Asked how angry he was at the break, Benitez said: “It was more about to manage the situation.

“We didn’t have the best first half. We created some chances, they created some, and then we conceded at the end.

“For a team at the bottom of the table maybe it would be a disaster, so I had to give them confidence and an idea how to play in the second half. They did really well.

“Full-time, it was much better (the mood).

“There was a little bit of frustration because we could have done better and were pushing and pushing to win the game.

“I tried to take the positives. You cannot be talking about the negatives all of the time because you will change nothing.”

Benitez’s side were better after the break, and Yann M’Vila cleared a shot off the line from Ayoze Perez after the restart.

While frustrated at the way his team performed before the break, he was heartened by United’s second half performance.

Asked if he had expected more, Benitez said: “Yes, but we made two or three fouls that we didn’t have to do.

“That was the main thing, it allowed them to put the balls in the box and win the second balls.

“That was something we have to improve for the future. We have an idea and know how they play, we did it in the second half and that is how I want to see the team play in future.”

Benitez – who took charge of Real Madrid against Barcelona in El Clasico earlier in the season – enjoyed his first taste of the Tyne-Wear rivalry.

“I like this type of games with a stadium full of passionate fans,” he said. “It is good for the game.”

The result suited Norwich City, who climbed out of the Premier League’s relegation zone on Saturday with a win over West Bromwich Albion.

Newcastle remain second-bottom, a point behind 18th-placed Sunderland.

Norwich, United’s next opponents, are three points ahead of them in 17th place.

However, there is an international break before the club’s visit to Carrow Road on April 2.

“Now we have an international break to keep working with the rest of the players that will be here,” said Benitez.

“We have eight games to play, and we know it will be difficult. It will be difficult, for sure. What we have to do is prepare the next game, try and analyse what was bad and try and change things.

“We are creating chances and attacking and we can be there. We have to improve this part of the game.

“If we have to fight until the last game and the last minute then we have to do it.”

Meanwhile, Jack Colback will miss the next two games through suspension after picking up his 10th booking of the season.