Cheick Tiote claims that Rafa Benitez has brought a ‘different mentality’ to Newcastle United, with the players now ‘believing’ in themselves and working ‘hard as a team’.

The midfielder has shown something close to his best form in recent games and been a key part in helping to stem the flow of goals.

With only Aston Villa having conceded more this season, it has been a major factor in the likely relegation for the club.

However, Cheick Tiote says ‘we still believe’ and that whilst he acknowledges that the fans might be keen on seeing Alan Pardew beaten, the players are only focused on Newcastle winning on Saturday.

Whilst you are always sceptical when any player claims how great the new manager is and by insinuation how poor the last one was, you wouldn’t find many Newcastle fans arguing with this as an assessment of Benitez and McClaren.

Cheick Tiote talking to The Mirror:

“He (Rafa Benitez) brings a different mentality, we believe in ourselves and work hard as a team.

“He brings a different mentality and everyone knows that if they don’t perform they will be on the bench. That’s good for the team – everyone has to fight for their chance.

“We believe in ourselves and work hard as a team and we have to do the same thing.

“When he gives you a chance you have to fight for your place to stay in the team. If you are Tiote, or another player, you have to fight to stay in the Premier League.

“It (Palace) is a very, very important game. We need to do everything – everything we have been doing for the last four games, we have to win this game.

“We have Crystal Palace on Saturday, one game. We focus on that game and do everything we can. If we get three points we can think of the next two games.

“When I am fit and well I always play and do my best.

“But when I am not 100% it is difficult. I always try my best. I have to improve and give everything 100% – that is what I am doing now.”

“I am glad I still have chance to help the club stay up. It would be really sad to see Newcastle in the Championship because it is a massive club. That is why we fight to stay up.

“We still believe and that is why we will fight every game.

“Maybe the fans want us to beat Alan Pardew – but for the players we know what is in our mind and we don’t think of Alan Pardew, we just have to win the game.”