By Coral Barry
Rafael Benitez has warned his Newcastle squad that relegation into the Championship will massively damage their careers as footballers.
Newcastle are second from the bottom of the Premier League table and face a trip to fellow strugglers Norwich on Saturday as they look to escape the drop with eight games left to play.
Benitez’s side has a game in hand over all of their closest rivals bar Sunderland and the Spaniard has admitted he cannot see a bright future for any of Newcastle’s players if the Magpies slip out of the top-flight.
“The other day I had a conversation [about possible relegation] with two of them – it’s not necessary to explain too many things,” said Benitez in his Norwich press conference on Friday, as quoted by the Mirror. “Then after that I had a conversation with another three, and the same feeling.
“So they know how important it is to stay in the Premier League.”
Benitez did not say who he had the conversations with, but it is well known that the majority of Newcastle’s senior players have failed to deliver this season.
The Magpies’ draw with Sunderland in their last league game was their first point since early February after four straight defeats and Newcastle must win at the weekend if they truly want to kick-start their survival campaign.
Benitez replaced the sacked Steve McClaren less than a month ago charged with saving Newcastle from the drop, but he says he fears for his players if they cannot deliver the goods by the end of the season.
The former Real Madrid manager said: “It will not be easy to say: ‘Oh I will go.’ It’s not easy when you’re not doing well at your job to get a better job.
“They lose value. The players lose value. I don’t think that anyone wants to go down because it will be negative for everyone if we go down.
“I think it’s difficult but at the same time it’s very simple. They know that we are responsible for the situation.
“They know that next year if something is wrong they have to do their best to change things.”