Despite watching his team win their final pre-season friendly, the message from Rafa Benitez remains the same.

The Newcastle Manager saying ‘…as a coach you have to be never satisfied, always pushing, because that is the way you produce a winning team’.

United produced a very good first 50 minutes when they scored three and could have had a lot more, only to then crumble on set-pieces and hang on for a 3-2 win (see the goals here).

Rafa Benitez saying that it is always good to win but ‘to concede two goals at set-pieces…I’m not very pleased with that’.

Chancel Mbemba missed out with an ankle injury yesterday and it was claimed this was only a precaution, fingers crossed that it isn’t linked to the ankle problem that caused him to miss nine weeks of matches last season.

Rafa insists that he still hasn’t decided on his team to play Fulham and it all depends on fitness, form and how players ‘understand each other’ in training and in matches.

Summing up Newcastle United’ current position, Rafa’s appraisal is ‘We are not at the level we expect to be – but close’.

Rafa Benitez speaking to NUFC TV:

“It is always good when you win but we know pre-season is just to adjust things and prepare the team. 

“It was a very entertaining game with a lot of situations at both ends, the fans would have enjoyed it with five goals and a lot of chances.

“To win is always good, to concede two goals at set-pieces…I’m not very pleased with that.”

‘You must have been pleased with the first 50 minutes?’

“We realised that we were doing well but also realised they (Vitesse Arnhem) started to work hard and play better. We had two or three good chances early in the second half but it was a good game in the end, as we had to defend and attack in the second half.”

‘Both goals conceded from set-pieces, that wouldn’t have pleased you?’

“Not really, disappointed with that but also sometimes when you change players it is not easy to know who has to go with each one. 

“It is something we have to correct for sure.

“It is pre-season but still good to win, yes it is a positive when you continue winning – it is good for the spirit…BUT still, I am realistic because we have to concentrate on the league next week (Fulham on Friday) and make sure we are ready. 

“We are not at the level we expect to be – but close.”

‘Do you know now the 11 who will start at Fulham?’

“No, not really. Again, we have to change players and see if they are fit, how they react, how they understand each other.

“We have to be pleased with what we have seen in pre-season but as a coach you have to be never satisfied, always pushing, because that is the way you produce a winning team, a winning mentality, a team that can go on and compete in every game.”

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