Rafa Benitez hasn’t performed miracles just yet with this Newcastle team…but there are definite signs of improvement.

His game management in the derby was excellent and you can hardly blame him for the first hour of lacklustre play from our ‘heroes’.

Rafa’s substitutions certainly helped Newcastle finish the game the better team and deserving of at least a point – even the unorthodox moving of Moussa Sissoko proved a relative success.

The Leicester game also showed the new boss setting his team up as harder to beat – yet still with more threat than we had all seen previously in most away matches.

The worry of course is that Rafa Benitez is going to be too limited both by the number of games available…and the quality of player he has inherited.

This latest two week ‘break’ of a fragmented season could hopefully be a blessing in disguise, though a lot of supporters are feeling that it is added torture on a personal level. We all fear the worst and a fortnight of nothing doesn’t exactly calm the nerves – most fans wanting simply to just confront what lies ahead and get it over with.

If there is real quality in the Newcastle team then this is the time for them to show it.

Yes certain players may well be able to jump ship if Newcastle go down but it is a major mistake if they think they will be able to walk away without any lasting blame.

Those who see themselves as potentially playing in the Champions League will do well not to treat any potential watching clubs/managers with complacency. The clubs at the top want players with both the talent AND desire that at the very least matches the players they already have.

No Newcastle fan can say that they have seen that this season from any United player – so for both their and our sakes, the millionaire ‘superstars’ of Newcastle United need to show themselves now.