'Confident' Baggies can still pack a punch - Rafa
Written by Rory Mitchinson
Rafa Benítez feels that West Bromwich Albion have rediscovered their confidence ahead of their Premier League visit to St. James’ Park on Saturday.
The Baggies arrive on Tyneside knowing that only victory will do if they are to avoid the drop to the Sky Bet Championship, and even that will not be enough if Swansea City overcome Chelsea in the day’s evening fixture.
However, since Darren Moore replaced former Magpies boss Alan Pardew at the Hawthorns, Albion have developed some of the solidity that has been key to their eight-season stay in the top flight, picking up a fine victory against Manchester United either side of home draws with the Swans and Liverpool.
Benítez was full of praise for the job done by the former Jamaican international during his short stint at the helm, and warned that his side cannot take anything for granted as they go looking for a fifth successive home win on Saturday afternoon.
“(Moore) is doing a great job. Preparing for the game, watching the games they have played before, and the clips we have for the players, they are doing well,” he said. “They are dangerous and it seems they are playing with confidence. Some people may say it is a little bit late. It could be, but still they are dangerous and I know that this game will be massive for them, too.
“We do not relegate anyone. When you talk about the league, it depends on the points that you have. So, we have to do our job – try to get three points, and I’m sure they will try to do the same. It’s a situation like this – we will try to do what we have to do and they will do the same.”
Despite losing 1-0 to Everton on Monday, Newcastle all but made sure of their Premier League status by coming from behind to beat Arsenal a fortnight ago.
Victory against the Baggies would take United one step closer to clinching what would be an impressive top-ten finish in their first campaign back in the Premier League, though Benítez is not wanting to get too caught up in setting new targets for his troops as they approach the season’s home straight.
“It’s just one game at a time,” he said. “We know that winning one game, we can be there in the top ten. We have more chances to keep winning and we will try to keep winning. The idea in the season has been one game at a time, and it’s what we have to do now.
“We are where we are because we (have been) working really hard. We were working hard the other day, but we were not good enough in the final third. Still, what we have to do is keep working, and be compact and organised. In some games (this season), we have won because we have had one chance, or two chances, and we have taken our chances and defended well. We have a good balance. That is the key for me, and it has to be the key until the end of the season if we want to be solid and have chances to win games.”
"They are dangerous and it seems they are playing with confidence. Some people may say it is a little bit late. It could be, but still they are dangerous and I know that this game will be massive for them, too."