Rafa keen to keep Magpies' 'winning mentality'
Written by Tom Easterby
Newcastle United boss Rafa Benítez wants his upwardly-mobile side to take their "winning mentality" into Monday night’s Premier League game at Everton (8pm kick-off).
The Magpies head to Goodison Park looking for a fifth straight victory which would see them leapfrog the Toffees, who currently sit one place ahead of United in ninth prior to this weekend’s fixtures.
And despite having passed the 40-point mark courtesy of last Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal, Benítez is keen for his charges to continue their fine form on Merseyside against Sam Allardyce’s side.
“Always I talk about a winning mentality, and we have shown that,” he said. “You try to win every game, you try to go there and get three points in every game. I’ve said that against the majority of the teams and some people say, ‘maybe one point is enough’.
“But Leicester was the last example. We wanted to win, and we told the players, 'listen – we know this is a difficult game, because they have very good players and they are doing well, but if we do things in the same way we can beat anyone'.
“You have to have your days and maybe if it’s a top side they will have their days, but when you want to win, you have to have this mentality. Winning mentality means to approach the game, every game, with the idea of getting three points.”
The Magpies – who will be without the services of former Everton loanee Christian Atsu on Monday – have moved into the top half of the table after an excellent seven weeks.
And Benítez admitted his pride at what he had seen from his players during their recent run.
“I could see the passion of the fans and I can feel the passion now. Everybody has been trying to do their best to help the team, to help these young players to perform at the level they are performing at,” he said.
“I’m really pleased with everything that is going on, and hopefully we can get more points and stay higher in the table, but the main target was to stay in the Premier League. We have to just try to do our best until the end and see what we want to do in the future.”
One of the players to have contributed significantly to that upturn in form has been midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who has been tipped by some for a return to the England squad with this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia looming.
“I think he is doing really well in the last months, but still he has room for improvement, because he has the potential and he has the quality,” said Benítez. “It’s just about being consistent on and off the pitch in terms of his behaviour, and he will be a much better player.
“I don’t want to put the manager under pressure, but I said before he is doing really well. You know your squad and if you have different kinds of players you can approach the games in a different way, and sometimes that’s very helpful.
“I think for me, as his manager, yes, he could be there. But it’s not just my decision, but I think he is doing well and hopefully he can do well until the end, and then maybe he will be there.”
"I could see the passion of the fans and I can feel the passion now. Everybody has been trying to do their best to help the team, to help these young players to perform at the level they are performing at."