Rafa Benitez reveals what he told Jamaal Lascelles before Newcastle’s players cancelled their Christmas party

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Newcastle United’s players have cancelled their Christmas party – for the second year running.

The club’s players had planned to head to London for a festive night out after this afternoon’s game against Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium.

When I was talking to Jamaal (Lascelles, Newcastle’s captain), I said ‘if something’s wrong, you have to realise’.

Rafa Benitez

However, the planned party has been cancelled because of the team’s position near the foot of the Premier League table.

Newcastle are 15th in the division and three points above the relegation zone.

“This group of players, last year they cancelled the party because they knew and they realised that it was not the right thing to do,” said United manager Rafa Benitez.

“And this year, it has been exactly the same.

“When I was talking to Jamaal (Lascelles, Newcastle’s captain, pictured), I said ‘if something’s wrong, you have to realise’.

“I think he was quite sensible. They wanted to do it, because it’s a tradition for some players, especially in England.

“But I think they’ve been quite good, and I think that the fans will appreciate that they’re just focused on that.

“Hopefully, we’ll not lose, touch wood. If everything is right, fine, still they will not do anything - or at least not that I know! And if something is wrong, still it’s the same. They’re quite responsible.”

Meanwhile, Benitez says he’s not concerned with Newcastle’s position in the Premier League table.

The club is three points and as many places above third-bottom Huddersfield.

“I don’t spend too much time watching the league table, because I think it’s wrong,” said Benitez.

“We know that we need 38 or 26 points this year, and we know we have some games that we can win, and maybe some that we cannot.

“It’s just one game at a time. That’s the key. I prefer to concentrate on the game. That’s it – and try to get results. To be sure this is where I expected us to be.

“We need to win against these teams around us at the bottom.”