Both Norwich and Swansea won their games yesterday so that puts even more pressure on both Newcastle and Sunderland in their derby game this afternoon, which is being reported as the most important one in 26 years.
It is the 156th meeting between the two clubs with both having won 53 of the previous games.
Newcastle are 19th in the league table on 24 points and Sunderland are one point ahead of Newcastle in 18th place, but Norwich are now 4 points ahead of Newcastle on 28 points in 4th bottom place after their 1-0 win at West Brom yesterday.
Rafa Benitez – with players in training
Swansea are 12 points ahead of us after beating bottom club Aston Villa 1-0 at home yesterday.
Rafa Benitez is acutely aware of how important his game is – his home debut as the Newcastle manager:
“It’s always a disaster if you lose, but especially on Sunday it will be more difficult,” “But I don’t think that will happen, so I stay positive – and I said before, we have nine games to play.”
“There are a lot of points to play for, but this one match can help because then it will then be easier to approach the other games.”
“But we have to be sure that we are ready for the next one if something goes wrong.” “A derby is a derby and here in the city, everywhere when you talk to people, always they are saying: ‘Oh you have to win this game, come on Rafa!’”
“Still I am sure I will have two or three more meetings and local people will say more.” “More or less, when you have a team at the bottom of the table you know something is wrong,”
“It could be the mentality, it could be the confidence – they have quality, the team has some good players.” “The quality is clear, training them you can see that they have enough quality.”
“Now we have to maybe make the team coordinate a little bit more because we have to improve in attack; we have quality so we have to create chances for them.”
“We have to improve in defense, but we are short of people now with injuries, so hopefully when people come back from injuries we can manage this in a better way.”
“Also because we have players like Fabricio Coloccini with experience coming back, but also because we need competition.”
“It is not so much just saying: ‘Oh well he will play.’” “We want players to work hard so that they can have a lot of competition and we have to make sure they are ready to play.”
Since Rafa arrived on Tyneside the position has worsened a little with Newcastle losing their game last time out at league leaders Leicester on Monday night.
Last week Swansea won and Norwich picked up a point and then yesterday both those clubs won their games.
We are hoping the (big) problems at Newcastle are not due to the mentality of the players, because that would be a difficult one for Rafa to fix.
But the feeling this season is that when things get tough some of our players just disappear.
So it will be a big test for our players today if they do face adversity during the game, because they have to come back and win this game – whatever happens – after we have now lost our last four games.
And Newcastle fans are expecting a win.