Rafa Benitez says he does NOT fear the sack at Newcastle United – despite a winless start to the season.
Benitez’s side are second-bottom of the Premier League ahead of this afternoon’s home game against Brighton and Hove Albion.
It has been claimed that Benitez – whose contract expires next summer – “fears” that owner Mike Ashley will dismiss him before the end of the campaign.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has also been linked with the position during the international break.
Asked if he feared the sack, Benitez said: “No. I don’t fear the sack. I don’t think that, that’s it.”
Benitez is not under pressure from fans, who understand the financial constraints which have been placed on him by Ashley, who put the club up for sale a year ago.
We will do well and we will stay in the Premier League. I will not say what position.Rafa Benitez
Supporters also know that five of the club’s first eight games were against teams from last season’s top six.
Benitez said: “Is it a difficult situation? Yes, because you’re at the bottom of the table. Something that we were not expecting? No, it could be.
“You see the fixtures, you see the level of the other teams, and you knew we could be there, more or less.
“We have to win one game, and it will be a lift for everyone. We know it’s like that.”
Asked if any other manager could do a better job than him, Benitez said: “I think each one is different.
“You have to consider when I came here, what happened; when I decided to stay, what happened; when I stayed, what happened, and then what’s happening now.
“We will do well and we will stay in the Premier League. I will not say what position.
“I have confidence we will do it. It’s not just me. My staff is really good, the players are working really well, the experience that we have after so many years, and still we are working harder than anyone.
“I’m optimistic. We have to get the best from this group of players. We’re professionals, we work very hard, we’re persevering, and we have the belief that we can do it, because we did it last year (when United finished 10th).
“Will it be difficult? Yes. More difficult than last year? Yes, but still we’re confident, because the way that they have trained ... the last two days, we were trying to do two or three things and they did them really well, so we have to be positive.
“Everything that everybody has, we have that and experience, and then it’s just the team is training well.”
Asked if it was the happiest he had been for a while, Benitez added: “I’m fine. You can see the team training, and you have to expect that if they train well, you will see it.
“But as I said before, you don’t buy confidence on the fifth floor at John Lewis.
“You have to win. If you win, then you have more confidence.”