Rafael Benitez sets his target for Newcastle United

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has set his sights on Premier League survival following back-to-back defeats versus Burnley and Bournemouth. The Magpies made a swift start on their top-flight return, and they were at one stage sixth in the Premier League standings. However, recent 1-0 defeats to Burnley and Bournemouth has dropped them to 11th in the standings, and Benitez is now focused on his job of avoiding relegation.

He said: “My message very simple, especially after losing. My message has to be clearer and stronger: just stick together. It’s very simple and very clear. We were relegated two years ago, then we were promoted, which was a massive achievement to do it first time. Now we must realise the target is to stay in the Premier League, be sure that we are strong enough to do that.”

The Tyneside outfit have collected 14 points from their first 11 matches, and Benitez will hope to have a similar run going during the festive period, although they have a much stiffer fixture list. Newcastle face Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City all before the turn of the year, and they may have to scrap points from out-of-form clubs including West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United.

Benitez did not truly get his wish in the summer transfer market as he missed out on the likes of Tammy Abraham. Nevertheless, the club have managed to clinch valuable triumphs in the early part of the campaign with skipper Jamaal Lascelles netting the winner on two occasions.

Dubai-based financier Amanda Staveley is currently in talks with Magpies owner Mike Ashley over a potential takeover, and it is suggested that the 44-year-old could be prepared to spend megabucks to turn the club into potential challengers for the Premier League in the future. Newcastle United take on Manchester United at Old Trafford following the international break.