Claude Puel has declared Newcastle United safe from relegation.

Speaking on Thursday afternoon, the Leicester boss was full of admiration for the job Rafa Benitez has done.

Newcastle travel on Saturday in 12th place, with 35 points and still 21 to play for.

Claude Puel saying it is ‘always difficult’ to get instant promotion back to the Premier League and then compete but that Rafa has done ‘a great job’.

The Foxes boss also believes that now having put distance between themselves and the drop zone, Newcastle ‘can play with freedom’ against Leicester.

That Rafa’s team ‘can play with confidence, a good mentality.’

One thing for sure is that Rafa Benitez will be insisting his players play right through to the end of the season.

For professional pride and to make Newcastle look as desirable a destination for players as possible as well as the fact that every place in the table is worth an extra £1.9m in prize money, which could potentially be available to the NUFC boss in the transfer market.

Claude Puel pre-Newcastle press conference:

“Matty James will have surgery on his Achilles tendon.

“He will not be available for the rest of this season.

“The nomination [for March Manager of the Month] is always about results and consistency.

“I would like it if we can have a reward for the whole squad.

“I think Newcastle are clear [or relegation fears] now.

“They are safe in the Premier League and that’s fantastic for Newcastle. They can play with freedom against us.

 “I think Rafa Benitez made a great job all of the season.

“It’s always difficult for a team to go down to the Championship and come back up one season after.

“Newcastle are safe in the Premier League. They can play with confidence, a good mentality and without pressure.

“I think he [Leicester owner] is ambitious. That’s normal. He always keeps a good relationship without putting bad pressure on the team. All of the people feel the ambition and this is normal.”

  • Rich Lawson

    Nice try Claude,we’re not safe from relegation and you are obviously not interested in qualifying for The Europa then ?

  • Dillon Tovak

    Mind games for sure.

  • Wor Monga

    He’s right in some of the statements that he made…it’s never easy to come straight back up from the Championship especially without needing the play-offs, and it’s made all the harder when replacements have to be brought in quickly (and cheaply) to replace the club’s 4 most valuable outfield players…who demanded out, on relegation…

    …Rafa not only achieved this, but he has now turned what has been often been regarded as a Championship squad into a proper functioning PL outfit without having the positions that he saw as needing strengthening last summer strengthened, until January…he’s done that by concentrating on and building one of the best defences outside of the top 6…

    …But Puel’s wrong in thinking that anyone at the Toon believes that they are safe, and will be free to play without pressure…it’s his ploy to try and relieve some of the pressure he has got after some quite mediocre results, at home recently…away from home they’ve done ok, but clubs like Leicester who’ve had spectacular league success and spent a lot of money on the back of it… need to keep the good home results going just to keep their supporters interested!!!

  • Lord

    Hey Mr Puel, three points at Leicester will make us safe.

  • 1957

    We’re almost there barring a disastrous final few games. We probably won’t need Benitez 40 points target, it is there to keep the players focused and their flip flops in the cupboard

  • gallowgate26

    Sounds like he’s getting his excuses in early. This game should be the one where they end the BS of Leicester being a bigger club than Newcastle United. Put the fookers to the sword and end this three year charade! End of.