With three months to go of the season, the Rafa Benitez message is for nobody to lose their head.

Ahead of two crucial home matches that could/would reassert Newcastle’s very strong position, the United boss says that it is ‘really, really important that we stay calm’.

Benitez insists that he won’t even seriously look at the league table until April at the earliest and with recent games and those up next, it is easy to see why.

Since Newcastle last played in the Championship the games elsewhere have pretty much gone against them, Brighton heading back to the top after a win, whilst Reading have closed to within three points due to successive victories, with Leeds also winning a game in recent days.

However, with so many key matches coming up in these next five days, the top of the table (see below) could dramatically change in a number of ways.

If Newcastle get the wins and things go well elsewhere, NUFC could be back top of the table and potentially nine points clear of third with a game in hand.

Alternatively, thing go pear-shaped and Brighton could stretch away with Reading joining Newcastle on 58 points and Leeds only one behind.

So to an extent Rafa Benitez is right to not put much store in what he sees in the top five going into this QPR match tonight.

I have a feeling though that these few days could be a key decider in setting up just how comfortable the rest of the season is likely to be, so let’s hope putting the reserves out at Oxford pays full dividends.

Rafa Benitez:

“Obviously I know where we are in the table but my focus is on the next game.

“We are working really hard trying to prepare for it.

“It will be a difficult game for us and we have two games this week so, as I have said in the past, it is really, really important that we stay calm.

“Keep working hard, have confidence and try to win every game.

“I will see the table in April maybe but now, I think it is important just to concentrate on one game at a time.

Queens Park Rangers are doing better now.

“They have had some good results and it will be a tough game, like the majority of them are in the Championship.

“The manager has experience – and watching them, they change systems in some games and they will be quite difficult to break down.

“We have been doing well for the majority of the season and hopefully we can carry on with this form.”

Championship Table 

60 Brighton (GD+25) Played 27

58 Newcastle (+33) Played 27

55 Reading (+5) Played 29

51 Leeds (+12) Played 28

49 Huddersfield (+2) Played 27

46 Derby (+9) Played 28

46 Sheffield Wednesday (+5) Played 28

44 Barnsley (+4) Played 29

Upcoming Matches

Wednesday 1 February

Blackburn v Leeds 

Newcastle v QPR 

Thursday 2 February

Huddersfield v Brighton 

Friday 3 February

Wigan v Sheff Wed

Saturday 4 February

Barnsley v Preston

Ipswich v Reading

Newcastle v Derby

Sunday 5th February

Huddersfield v Leeds

Brentford v Brighton