Rafa Benitez says it is the work on the training pitch that has delivered the points and performances so far.

With nine Premier League games gone, Newcastle have 14 points and stand in seventh place before this weekend’s matches.

The United boss says that his players are doing everything that is expected of them, which is carrying out the coaching team’s ideas and game plans.

Rafa Benitez says he wants his players to be ever ‘more ambitious’ but rather than meaning an expectation of being in a European place, he means he wants the players as individuals and as a team, to believe that they can improve.

Rafa says that he is happy with the points total at the moment but warns against fans getting too carried away, the manager saying ‘it’s too early and we have to wait’, before being able to have any confidence in how this season is going to pan out.

The truth is that many of the games so far could have gone either way, with Brighton, Stoke, Huddersfield, Swansea, and Palace – wins and losses, that could have realistically had a different result with such small margins in those matches.

Steve McClaren declared that we should judge him after eight games when his team initially struggled, then it became 10 games, before eventually he wanted us to judge after an entire season – thankfully we never got that far.

Rafa Benitez has went for 21 games as the perfect time to reflect on how Newcastle United are performing, that will take us to the eve of the away game at Stoke on 1 January.

With 14 points from 27 so far, that means there will be 36 to play for before we get to the new year.

It would be nice to think the team could aim for another 16 points from these next 12 matches to get to 30 points after 21 games, maybe almost within touching distance of safety – Middlesbrough went down in third bottom spot with 34 points last season.

It is an ambitious aspiration but if Rafa and his players can help keep making the odds fall in United’s favour, it is possible.

The next two games at Burnley and home to Bournemouth could be key, four points would be a brilliant return before we run in Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Whatever we are thinking though, one thing for sure is that whatever happens, Rafa Benitez will be keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

Rafa Benitez:

“When I tell the players we want to be more ambitious, it is not that we have to be in the top four, or in Europe, or whatever.

“It is just to approach every game with the feeling we can improve a little bit.

“If we try to learn something, or to work a little bit harder in the training sessions, and if we can be a little bit better in every game, you never know what can happen.

“The team are doing well and we have the points that we wanted, maybe less than we wanted…but we are happy.

“Everybody is doing what we expect them to do – we have ideas, game plans, and they are doing that.

“We have had another good training session today and that is the reason why we are in a good positon in the table.

“At the same time, I would say that it’s too early and we have to wait, to see where we are in January, and we will see the real potential of the team.”

  • Paul Patterson

    Four points from the next two games would be good, six would be brilliant. Get Man United out of the way and then we have Watford at home and West Bromwich away, two games we can pick more points up from. Rafa is managing expectations perfectly and the team are doing the rest.

    • Wor Lass

      Watford are going really well and W Brom are seasoned PL campaigners – we`ll need to be really focused for both of those games but we should be picking up some points at home all the time. With these lads under Rafa we really can expect that to happen.

      • Dillon Tovak

        Are we at home against Man U? I’d be more surprised to get points at the hawthorns than I would against man united at sjp.

        • Paul Patterson

          Man utd away.

          • Dillon Tovak

            Definite 3 points then 💪🏼😉

  • steve pearce

    Away at Manure will be a stern test – but the other games could be winnable. At least I can’t see the traditional rout at Old Trafford as our defence will be up to the task, but goals may be a problem unless Rafa plays Mitro up front from Monday’s game onwards. Surely even he must see that Hoselu just isn’t a Premiership striker and Mitro is our only realistic option up front.

    • Mike Adam

      You can see it Steve, and I can see it, he must know it. It is time to give Mitro his run of starts! Merino in the number 10 behind him. Perez and Joselu on the bench or in street clothes! And . . . where is Aarons, when is this kid going to sniff some playing time or even make the bench?

      • Kneebotherm8

        Merino at number 10 definitely worth a go.

        • Dillon Tovak

          I think Rafa likes options and wouldn’t want Hayden, Jonjo and Merino all on together incase there’s an injury or two. Possibly?
          Otherwise I just can’t see why we’d persist with Perez there when Merino surely would be better.

  • ghostrider

    Judge us at the end of the season should be the order of the time, because, if we are well clear of relegation and/or even pushing for top 10, then we can judge the season to be a sort of success.
    However, we can’t be in the top 10 in January and judge it to be a success if we then slip into a relegation spot from that point on .

    The saying goes….we can’t really judge anything until the fat lady sings but it’s looking good so far.

  • Rich Lawson

    Conveniently also the transfer window ?