Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Details on Pitch Rafa Wants to Direct, Not in Curry Houses; THE PREVIEW: Newcastle United V Leicester City 5.30, St James' Park

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Details on Pitch Rafa Wants to Direct, Not in Curry Houses; THE PREVIEW: Newcastle United V Leicester City 5.30, St James' Park

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Waugh

BUSINESS meetings at curry houses and 125th-anniversary celebrations have been discussed in depth this week - but neither significant milestone can mask the importance of these next two matches for Newcastle United.

Rafa Benitez's side have lost five of their last six Premier League matches and have won only once in 10 games.

Such form has seen United fall to 15th place in the top flight with 15 points - just five above the relegation zone - and has ensured the back-toback home matches against Leicester City and Everton have become "massive" - as Benitez himself stressed earlier in the week.

It appears strange, then, the focus this week, as has so often been the case this season, has largely been on off-field issues rather than on the revitalised Foxes' visit to St James' Park.

Benitez, however, insists his concentration has been on Leicester alone and not on owner Mike Ashley's first face-to-face meeting with financier Amanda Staveley at an Indian restaurant in London in midweek.

The Spaniard is almost certainly far-better informed about the potential takeover concerning PCP Capital Partners Ltd than he would like to admit but there is no doubt his primary focus is on arresting Newcastle's current slide down the table rather than on who the long-term owner will be.

"I didn't know because I was just preparing for the game," Benitez replied when asked what his immediate reaction to the photos had been. "I was watching Everton a little bit on Thursday evening because we are playing them next week.

"Someone told me and the NUFC head of media has been explaining what you will be asking me but I don't have anything to say.

"I don't have the information but it will not change the way I approach the game. It doesn't change anything.

"We just have to be ready for Leicester and then after they (the board) will mention it if necessary."

Throughout every press conference so far this season, Benitez has maintained a consistent message; urging supporters to remain united behind the side.

The Spaniard believes that is the key to Newcastle's success this term and the only way they will beat the drop.

He added: "Yes I understand why supporters see this as a significant step but it will not change anything in terms of the support they have to give our players tomorrow.

"I think it's important to realise we have to stay united, we have to realise we are a team, coming from the Championship and we haven't been five years in a row in the Premier League receiving all the money from the TV and signing players we wanted.

"We are in a position where every detail can make a big difference.

"We won against Crystal Palace scoring through what? (a corner) - and we lost against Bournemouth from a corner, so maybe just a corner in the last minute can change everything. …

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