Rafa Benitez is looking forward to being back in front of the St James Park crowd on Saturday.

We became used to calls from Steve McClaren and his failing players asking for the fans to be behind the team and despite the cheek of those requests, the Newcastle supporters continued to stay behind their failing half-hearted side.

With Rafa Benitez it is a different story, it is all very reminiscent of the Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby days, when if the manager said something, everybody stopped to listen and take notice.

In just over six weeks Rafa has gained the complete confidence of the Newcastle crowd and his bravery in making big decisions, on both tactics and team selection, have only added to that.

You have to play everybody twice but as Newcastle continued to struggle, you couldn’t help but look at Alan Pardew’s Palace and our mates at Aston Villa, awaiting us in the final three matches.

Rafa Benitez is talking a lot about momentum and these next two matches are against the two teams in the Premier League with the lowest points return since Christmas, no excuses really for the Newcastle team not to take six points from the two fixtures.

Rafa was guaranteed to get the right reaction from the fans and amazingly has got the right reaction as well from a number of players who had previously offered very little.

Saturday 3pm at St James Park is a moment when this Newcastle team really can’t afford to fail Rafa Benitez and the supporters.

Rafa Benitez:

“We’ll play in front of our fans (v Palace) so hopefully they can make the difference – and they can score the first goal.

“We said when we won against Swansea ‘keep the momentum’ and against Manchester City, we had a very good reaction from the team.

“So I think we are in a good moment and we have to carry on pushing, try to win every game until the end.

“We knew that our away record wasn’t the best and to concede an early goal (at Liverpool) is very difficult to manage – but I think the reaction in the second half was fantastic.

“We knew that everything could change and with the way we were playing, they were a little bit more nervous.

“We had more chances and we put everything into the second half, trying to change the result.

“I was very disappointed after one minute but really pleased at the end because of the character we showed on the pitch, the performance in the second half, the team spirit, everything was so positive.

As a manager, you have to be proud of your players.

“I have very good memories here. We were 2-0 down at half time so people were maybe thinking about Istanbul too, but the main thing is we got a point against a very good team.

“It was difficult, the reaction was very positive and hopefully we can carry on winning games now.”