Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has suggested that the upcoming matches against Huddersfield Town and Fulham are crucial to the club’s survival hopes after the disappointing defeat at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend. The Magpies appeared on course to secure a 1-1 draw against the Wolves in the previous matchday but their ambition was shattered in the dying minutes of the game with Matt Doherty netting a 94th-minute winner for Nuno’s men.
Speaking in a news conference, Benitez said that his team are no longer favourites against teams around them on the table and has urged the players to work hard to secure victories against the likes of Huddersfield and Fulham, he said:“Since the last two windows, I don’t think we are favourites against anyone. Am I confident we can beat anyone? Yes – but still we have to work hard to do it.For us, every game is like a final. We have to approach every game thinking one point could make a massive difference. That is why I was so upset against Wolves. It makes it so much more difficult for us when you have these decisions. The next two games are massive.”
Newcastle have made genuine progress from the opening 10 matches where they were rooted to the drop zone and they are now three points ahead of the bottom three. Nonetheless, they can’t be overconfident with the recent upturn in form as defeats against Huddersfield and Fulham to follow could potentially drop them back into the dreaded drop.
The Magpies are currently the joint-second worst scorers in the division with just 13 goals from the opening 16 matches but there has been some positive outlook upfront with Salomon Rondon getting onto the scoresheet with better success of late. The Venezuelan has contributed three goals and an assists during the previous five matches for the team.