Rafa Benitez reveals why he was 'disappointed' at Watford as he waits on Newcastle transfer news

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez is still playing a waiting game at Newcastle United – just two days before the January transfer window opens.

The club, held to a 1-1 draw by Watford at Vicarage Road yesterday, is 15th in the Premier League with 20 games played.

And Newcastle kick-off the New year with a tough run of games, starting with Wednesday night's home game against Manchester United.

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Benitez's side, without on-loan winger Kenedy, were stronger in the second half of last season.

The January arrivals of Kenedy and Martin Dubravka helped the club finish 10th in the table.

This year, Benitez, forced to sell to buy in the summer by owner Mike Ashley, is still waiting to see if he can strengthen a squad which is short in key areas.

Benitez banned himself from talking about incoming transfers before and after the Watford game.

Asked if the team had built a platform to push on in the New Year, Benitez said: "Yeah. We did it last year.

"Our second part of the league was quite good, and then I have the belief we can do it this year, too. But this year, also, a lot of the teams are stronger than last year, because everyone was spending a lot of money.

"We have to be sure that we continue performing like we did on the pitch, and then see what happens in January."

Newcastle against Watford thanks to a first-half goal from Salomon Rondon, signed on loan from West Bromwich Albion in the summer.

However, a defensive mix-up between substitutes Jonjo Shelvey and Fabian Schar allowed Abdoulaye Doucoure to head an equaliser eight minutes from time.

And Benitez was "disappointed" with the goal.

"I can be happy, because before the game, against a good team, it could be a good result," said manager Benitez.

"But I was disappointed with the way we were defending, and we were very lose.

"To concede this way was disappointing. If they had scored in the way they had been playing in the first half, with a pass in behind or something like that, then you say fine. But they scored in a way we could have avoided.

"And also in the way we were playing on the counter-attack, we could have been more accurate with the final pass, and then we could be talking about something different.

"But, overall, I am really pleased with the teamwork, the performance of the players and the commitment, so a lot of positives after the defeat against Liverpool, and that's our way.

"We have to be sure that everybody gives everything, and then we'll have chances against every team."