Rafa Benitez says he will continue being ‘open and honest’ with his players about how good they are – and insists the players are happy with his approach.
Benitez caused a stir by claiming it would be a ‘miracle; if Newcastle stayed up this season.
While some fans took it as a negative comment and a slight on his players’ ability, Benitez insists they have reacted ‘really well’ to his comments.
He said: “You could see it against Watford. They are working even harder.
“The relationship between my players and myself is quite open and honest. I am telling them what I think.
“I told them that if we want to stay up, we have to work so hard, like we did at Watford.
“What we have to have is a gameplan, we have to work with these ideas, and what I will say about players like (Matt) Ritchie is that I have to give them some tips and some ideas so they can learn and improve, so I think that they are happy with that.
“I think that you cannot keep everyone happy, and maybe some of them will say things; yeah, fine. But everybody has to realise – players, staff, fans, everyone – that it’s so difficult so us.”
Benitez was given very little money to spend in the summer transfer window, making a £22million profit, while most clubs in the Premier league splashed millions of pounds on new signings.
It is likely to be the same in the January transfer window, with Benitez yet to be told his budget, and he says that while he has confidence the Magpies can avoid relegation, the club has to realise where it is at and not think they are better than what they are just because they finished 10th last season.
“We are competing against the best teams in the world, who are spending massive money, and if we think that we are better than we are, it’s a mistake,” he added.
“At the same time, if we have belief, team effort and show that we care, then we can have confidence in ourselves to compete and get points.
“But it’s not like we can think that: ‘oh we finished 10th last season, and that’s it.’ No. It’s not easy. You can see the table again is very, very tight.
“We have to be convinced, and the players are convinced, that the only way is that we have to keep working.
“That is the way is that we want to see our players performing; working hard from the first minute until the last minute, with the belief that, if we can do that, we can get points.
“Not with over-confidence thinking: ‘Oh, we are fine. We are Newcastle United. We can beat anyone.’ No. The proof is that when we play at home with 52,000 amazing fans behind the team, yet still we are not winning as much as we want. Why? Because it is not easy, and the Premier League is the Premier League, and our level is our level.
“So you can say to your players the truth, then you can manage how you are telling them the truth, but they understand easily what I am trying to say - and you saw that against Watford with the performance of the players.”