Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rafa Bans the R Word as He Asks Players for Positivity

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rafa Bans the R Word as He Asks Players for Positivity

Article excerpt

Byline: Lee Ryder Chief Sports Writer twitter: @lee_ryder

RAFA Benitez has banned talk of relegation at Newcastle United's training centre.

United are preparing for the crucial end-of-season run-in and only have eight games to save their Premier League lives.

But the Spaniard does not want his players' judgement to be clouded by talk of the drop.

Benitez was quick to quash any talk of what might happen if Newcastle don't stay up this season.

He told club director Bob Moncur not to think about relegation when he asked him what his plans were if the club do make an unwanted return to the Championship.

Benitez's view is while there are points to play for his players should be concentrating on nothing but making the most of the opportunity in front of them.

And while the season's main theme has been one of turmoil, with the Magpies only climbing out of the relegation zone twice since the turn of the year, Benitez has been eager to break down the rest of the campaign into small segments.

One training session at a time, one game at a time.

He is keen to avoid any type of information overload for his players, and training sessions have also been simplified as he looks to turn things around.

True, Newcastle are deep in trouble, but there are still 24 points to play for and, after using the international break to get his feet under the table at the club's Benton HQ, Benitez has to squeeze every ounce of optimism from his players he can in the next few weeks.

The trip to Norwich can't come quickly enough for Newcastle, and by Saturday players should be raring to go.

But there's a bit more of an anxious wait for Benitez before then as he waits to count his players back through the door after international duty, with Moussa Sissoko, Gini Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Rob Elliot all involved with their respective nations.

But from here on in, it's about the Premier League with no international fixtures after this week until May. …

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