Rafa Benitez was on great form when speaking ahead of the key match with Southampton.
A real relegation six pointer as fifth bottom meets fourth bottom but if the United boss is feeling the pressure, he wasn’t showing it.
One of the benefits of having a manager who has won league titles and the Champions League, as well as indeed relegation struggles early in his career (and the 10 match attempt to save Newcastle in 2016).
With a three week gap between matches, Rafa Benitez has revealed he is taking his players away for a four day trip.
Though with recent events elsewhere, especially Alan Pardew’s West Brom adventure, the Newcastle Manager is keen to stress that the trip is just about training and playing a friendly match, rather than any other kind of fun in the sun.
It is a massive prize for the players if they win this afternoon, it would then mean 21 days waiting for the next match but in the knowledge that they’d already taken a massive step towards securing safety.
A win today and Newcastle would be four points ahead of the Saints and up to five clear of the drop zone.
An amusing moment when talking about the trip away, came when asked if the players would be allowed to drink.
Deliberately pretending to misunderstand the question, Rafa Benitez replied ‘Yes, they can drink water, no problem!’
“I don’t usually like to take everyone away from their families…
“I am not very keen to go to Spain to enjoy the sun because I have been there all of my life, so I never need to do that.
“But 21 days without a game is too long.
“We have an option in Spain from Thursday until Sunday.
“We will train and then play Sunday – a match against a team who will be competitive.
“If we go there, it is because we have to play a game against a competitive team, we will train and try to keep everyone together.
“The good thing is that the complex where we will be, it is not in the middle of a town, so they have to stay there – relax and focus on football.
“I have not had big problems with my teams in the past, although the most famous was in Portugal with Liverpool, where we had a few problems…although we then beat Barcelona.
“The idea is to go next week, try to play a game and then come back.”
‘Will the players be allowed to drink?’
“Yes, they can drink water, no problem!”