Rafa Benitez reveals what’s REALLY changed at Newcastle United since he replaced Steve McClaren

Rafa Benitez says Newcastle United’s comeback against Everton showed how far the team has come since he joined the club.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Monday, 11th March 2019, 2:03 pm

Benitez today celebrated his third anniversary at St James’s Park.

Newcastle came from behind to beat Everton 3-2 on Saturday after a spirited second-half performance at St James’s Park.

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The result edged the club, which is 13th in the Premier League and six points above the relegation zone, towards safety.

Asked where the victory ranked for him, manager Benitez said: “Very difficult to rank. It was a great game, but we still have many to play.

“This was good – you have to enjoy it – but I was not thinking this is the (best) game. It was important. We have to continue winning.

“Other games? We had Norwich here, Brighton away when we were in the Championship. Last season, some massive games – we had Manchester United, even Arsenal.

Rafa Benitez.

“But this one was important, because this is our race now, to avoid relegation. It’s very important, and the way that we did has been massive for the fans and for everyone.”

Benitez inherited a demoralised and disorganised squad from Steve McClaren three years ago.

United were relegated that season, but Benitez’s 10-man side beat Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 on the final day of the season and went on to win the Championship and finish 10th in the Premier League last season.

“When we first came, we had too many injuries, and it wasn’t our team yet,” said Benitez.

“But you can see that against Tottenham, we had 10 players on the pitch and we beat them 5-1. We were growing.

“Two years ago in the Championship, you could see the belief and togetherness in the team. Last season, to finish 10th, was exactly the same.

“The players care and work hard for the shirt and for the fans. (Everton) has been another example – these players work really hard.

“Without that spirit, we wouldn’t have won.”