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20171027 Rafa Benitez.jpg

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We can get better by the game, says Rafa

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Rafa Benítez has challenged his Newcastle United side to keep improving by the game as the Magpies gear up for Monday’s Premier League clash at Burnley.

United sit just outside the division’s top six following last week’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at St. James’ Park, and are currently enjoying their best start at the highest level since the 2011/12 campaign.

At the same stage two seasons ago – a year in which they ultimately dropped out of the top flight – the Magpies had only just recorded their first win, and sat eighteenth in the table with a mere six points to their name.

This time out, Benítez believes Newcastle could be faring even better than they are at present, and called for his troops to remain “ambitious” ahead of their trip to Turf Moor.

“When I tell the players we want to be more ambitious, it is not that we have to be in the top four, or in Europe, or whatever. It is just to approach every game with the feeling we can improve a little bit,” he said. “If we try to learn something, or to work a little bit harder in the training sessions, and if we can be a little bit better in every game, you never know what can happen.

“The team are doing well. We have the points that we wanted – maybe less than we wanted, but we are happy. Everybody is doing what we expect them to do – we have ideas, game-plans and they are doing that. We have had another good training session today, and that is the reason why we are in a good positon in the table. At the same time, I would say that it’s too early – we have to wait, see where we are in January, and we will see the real potential of the team.”

Opponents Burnley sit just a place and a point shy of the Magpies after a solid beginning to the campaign, with manager Sean Dyche set to celebrate his fifth anniversary in charge on Monday.

That makes Dyche is the third longest-serving boss in the Premier League – behind only Arsène Wenger and Eddie Howe – and Benítez believes that such stability has been key to the Clarets’ recent successes.

“He is doing a great job. When you have a manager who has been there a while, trying to sign the players that he wants, managing the way that he wants, in the end you have a team that know what to do – they know what the manager wants, and I think that’s a great advantage,” the Spaniard said.

“They are doing well. They are well-organised, they are in a good position in the table and they are playing with confidence, and that is always an advantage if you want to go and compete in every game.”

"When I tell the players we want to be more ambitious, it is not that we have to be in the top four, or in Europe, or whatever. It is just to approach every game with the feeling we can improve a little bit."

Rafa Benítez

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