Will January come too late for Newcastle? Rafa Benitez has his say

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez is adamant that Newcastle United can climb the table ahead of the arrival of January reinforcements.

The club is bottom of the Premier League after losing seven of its first nine games.

Brighton and Hove Albion beat Benitez’s winless side 1-0 at St James’s Park on Saturday thanks to a goal from Beram Kayal.

Benitez – who was forced to sell to buy in the summer by owner Mike Ashley – hopes to reinforce his squad in January’s transfer window.

However, in the meantime, Benitez knows his team must start winning games.

Asked if it would be too late in January to turn things around, Benitez said: “If we do what we need to do we will win some games.

Once we win, that first game, our confidence will be higher and we can compete.

Rafa Benitez

“Once we win, that first game, our confidence will be higher and we can compete.

“We have shown against the top five that we can compete, but maybe we’ve not been lucky enough in the final third.”

Benitez had hoped to push even higher up the table after guiding the club to a 10th-placed finish last season.

However, United’s manager adjusted his targets after a summer stand-off with Ashley, who was at St James’s Park for the Brighton game.

“I didn’t say anything at the beginning,” said Benitez, who is out of contract next summer.

“Obviously, I knew that some people were talking about that (relegation). They’ve said that in the last few weeks.

“We can only look at the position, and can’t say we’ll do this and do that after January.

“We’ll just carry on trying to win games, and try to find three teams worse than us. That’s it.”

Newcastle had 27 shots – six of them were on target – against Brighton.

“We had 20 attempts,” said Benitez. “We have to be more clinical in the final third – that’s it.

“It’s something we have to carry on working on in training, and hopefully we can improve.”

Striker Salomon Rondon, sidelined for the past month, could be back for Saturday’s game against Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium.