When asked ahead of today’s match whether Reading’s defeat gave a boost to the Brentford match, Rafa Benitez simply replied that ‘I always say it depends on us’.

Reading could have closed to within three points of Newcastle and instead the Magpies can now g nine points clear of Jaap Stam’s team and seven ahea dof Leeds who beat Derby on Friday night IF they beat Brentford.

Rafa says that the Reading defeat at home to QPR shows that ‘anything can happen’.

The United boss will be looking to get back on track and even a draw would potentially be seen as a decent result, with United having two very winnable games against Rotherham and QPR at St James Park next.

Rather than short-term, the Newcastle Manager once again sees the bigger picture and points to the fact of seven matches in April meaning the promotion issues are almost certain to be only decided in the final weeks of the season.

Rafa Benitez going on to say that he had done his research pre-season and knew this campaign would be tough, judged on how few relegated teams have bounced straight back.

Norwich and Aston Villa looking very unlikely to do that this time, unless something dramatic changes.

Rafa Benitez:

“I always say it depends on us.

“If we can carry on (once again) winning games like the nine in a row…it depends on us.

“Proof again (Reading’s defeat at home to QPR on Thursday) that this competition is so difficult and anything can happen.

“I said before in a press conference – in April we have seven games, so still you will go to April and play a lot of games.

“There won’t be many teams who will be in the Premier League in February, so I think we will have to fight to the last match.”

‘The Championship doesn’t seem to have surprised you in terms of what it has thrown at Newcastle?’

“No, I had done my research, teams relegated (from Premier League) – in 2011/12 nobody was going (straight back) up, 12/13 nobody, then one in the play-off (in 2013/14), one in the play-off (2014/15), last year (2015/16) two – one of them in the play-off.

“It is not easy, so we knew it could be difficult.

“We thought it could be easier with nine wins in a row but you see, it is not easy and if you have one or two weeks you don’t do well, you can lose three games.

“It is then important to keep calm and stay focused.”

When the matchday 18 were announced this afternoon, not too sure what the bench says about the squad strength this season.