Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It Is Time for Real United to Stand Up and Fight for Promotion Place; Good Friday Clash with Leeds Now a Key Game

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It Is Time for Real United to Stand Up and Fight for Promotion Place; Good Friday Clash with Leeds Now a Key Game

Article excerpt

Byline: LEE RYDER Chief sports writer lee.ryder@trinitymirror.com @lee_ryder

NEWCASTLE United's performance against Sheffield Wednesday was the stuff of nightmares for Rafa Benitez.

In recent weeks, Benitez has banned talk of outgoing transfers, new contracts and potential summer signings - and a defeat like the one against the Owls is the reason why.

Quite simply, Benitez feels there is no point thinking about what next season could bring while there is still so much to play for in the Championship.

That is why he has cancelled contract talks with players coming to the end of their deals and why he has postponed transfer meetings until further notice.

Yet, still talk of what will happen in the summer continues to flow outside the four walls of the dressing room.

On Saturday, the only people who can affect results on the pitch THIS season then served up one of their worst performances against the Owls.

Newcastle were caught daydreaming during this crucial fixture in the promotion race.

Benitez was as unhappy as he has been for months after Newcastle failed to play to their potential and switched off at crucial times to hand Wednesday three points at Hillsborough.

The Newcastle manager believes in his players but they started nervously and invited pressure from a side that had to win to stay in the hunt for the play-offs.

What was more frustrating for Benitez and the travelling Newcastle fans was the fact the black-andwhites failed to take notice of the early warning shots from Carlos Carvalhal's team.

Newcastle just were not alert either side of the hour mark and then the game was gone.

After nodding off during set-plays, they found themselves with a mountain to climb.

True, Newcastle did stage a fightback in the dying stages - but by that time their chance to ease the pressure going into the last five games of the season had passed them by.

Benitez does not want his side to take their eyes off the ball and starting thinking about next season just yet. …

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