Rafa Benitez reveals why it will be a ‘miracle’ if Newcastle stay up

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez is hoping for another “miracle” at Newcastle United.

Benitez’s side were held to a goalless draw at St James’s Park by basement club Fulham on Saturday.

Even if we strengthen in January, it will be a miracle if we stay up. I think everyone knows what we have to do.

Rafa Benitez

Newcastle didn’t have a shot on target against a team which had conceded 42 goals in its previous 17 games.

There were some boos at the final whistle from frustrated fans.

The result left the club in 15th place, and five points above the relegation zone, ahead of the Boxing Day game against Liverpool at Anfield.

“For me, it’s very clear,” said Benitez, who guided the club to a 10th-placed finish last season.

“I know what’s coming now, and I know where we are.

“You can see the team is trying a lot of things, but still it’s not enough to get the points.

“It will be like that if we’re under pressure and feel this pressure, we will not better. We can make more mistakes.

“I’m trying to tell everyone, realise where we are, realise what we have to do, and if we do well, fine ... we can finish 10th or whatever.

“But if we think we can beat these teams that have spent £100 million, every one of them, in the summer easily every game, there is no chance, we are wrong – 100%.”

Benitez says it will be an achievement for United just to stay in the Premier League given the money spent by the club’s rivals.

Newcastle’s manager – who hopes to strengthen his squad in next month’s transfer window – had to sell to buy in the summer transfer window after refusing to sign a new deal.

“A game like that is confirmation of what I know,” said Benitez.

“Even if we strengthen in January, it will be a miracle if we stay up. I think everyone knows what we have to do.”

“It was a miracle last year. People say ‘you finished 10th last year’, but it could be with a couple of wins.

“We could be in the bottom five, so it was a miracle, and then if we do the same this year with teams spending even more money, it would be a miracle.

“I like the challenge, and we will try to do our best.

“You lose or cannot win, you cannot enjoy it, but I know it is my job and I have to be sure I make the right decisions all the time,

“After the games, we analyse everything and we think we are wrong we try to manage and correct things, but sometimes in this league, which is so difficult, it’s not enough, and we have to carry on and try to do better the next time.

“My main thing, my focus is try to find the right team to play Liverpool, and try to get three points.”

Meanwhile, Fulham defender Alfie Mawson hailed new manager Claudio Ranieri after the team kept a clean sheet for the first time this season.

“He’s been brilliant,” said Mawson.

“In the build up to this match, we were talking about Newcastle and how they are defensively, and the gaffer said about Rafa Benitez ‘he’s even more Italian than I am’ which was funny.

“We knew we’d come here and they would be solid, as they have been.

“And they’ve picked up a few wins on the bounce, and that got them right out of the mess. That shows you what can happen.

“I know we only got a point, but that clean sheet can be something we use to bounce off.

“And if we go into the next two games, which are massive for us, with that hunger and that belief that we’ll keep a clean sheet, we know that we can create chances and that more times than not we will score.”

Fulham’s defensive record cost Slavisa Jokanovic job last month.

“The gaffer says that the luck is always there, but you’ve got to go and earn it and against Newcastle we did that,” said Mawson.

“We were solid. They didn’t really have any clear chances, no shots on target, but we can’t rest on that.

“We’ve got to go on and win games like this and drag teams into it with us. We don’t want teams to get away from the pack.

“This result is a message that we can do the dirty stuff, and in the last couple of minutes we could have been 2-0 up.

“On another day, they’d have gone in.”

Fulham, promoted from the Championship, last season, have taken 10 points from their first 18 games.