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Players and fans must 'stick together', says Rafa

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Rafa Benítez has spoken of the need for calmness as Newcastle United bid to end their four-game losing run at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday night.

The Magpies have slipped into the bottom half of the Premier League table after defeats to Burnley, AFC Bournemouth, Manchester United and Watford, with back-to-back away trips now lying in wait.

Still, United are four points better off than they were at the same stage two seasons ago – a campaign in which they slipped out of the top flight.

And a passionate Benítez was keen to stress that the Magpies’ current crop are “giving everything” for the black and white shirt, and urged the club’s supporters to stay united heading into a hectic period.

“I think the fans appreciate that this group of players really care about the shirt and they really care about what they are doing,” he said. “We cannot forget that on September 1st, we were complaining and all the fans were saying, ‘Hmm, it will be a tough, difficult season.’ So, we are 14th in the league and we are in a good position. Still, we can win some games and we can lose some games and it could be more difficult, but, again I will say: what is our target? What do we want to achieve? To stay in the Premier League. Nobody was saying that it would be easy.

“We are not a team where one player will make the difference. We are a team that has to win games as a team – altogether. And the fans, I think they know – they are very clear when we play at home. The other day, they were a little bit upset because obviously we were losing. But, when we go away, the fans realise we need their support. And even with that, we can do really well and we can lose games. You could see yesterday, (between) Huddersfield and Manchester City, Huddersfield (stuck) together, working very hard, but Manchester City had 80 per cent of possession, they were better than them and they won, and that’s it.

“I say, ‘We will be better in the second part of the league,’ and if we win some games in the meantime, the job will be easier for me. But, if not, I have to carry on telling the players what we were doing well and what we have to do again, in the same way. Still, doing a great game, you can lose against the top sides, against any team. A message for our fans – stick together. Don’t make the mistake and think ‘this player, or the other one’ – you see what we have, and they are giving everything. This group of players, they can manage if we stay calm and we continue in the same way. Each one has to make their own decision, but again, I will say, our fans, they know where we are and why we are here.”

Mikel Merino will again be available for Tuesday’s clash, but Benítez confirmed that Christian Atsu, Paul Dummett and Jamaal Lascelles will all miss out once more.

"A message for our fans – stick together. Don’t make the mistake and think ‘this player, or the other one’ – you see what we have, and they are giving everything. This group of players, they can manage if we stay calm and we continue in the same way."

Rafa Benítez

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