Rafa Benitez issues warning to Newcastle fans ahead of crunch match v Leeds
By Matt Bullin
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has issued a warning to the Toon fans that the side is not performing at its best, ahead of their crucial match with Leeds tonight.
He has also said that promotion hasn’t been won yet.
Newcastle welcome Leeds to St James’ Park this evening in a huge match at the top of the Championship.
Benitez’ side sit in second, two points behind league leaders Brighton, after a disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday last time out.
Garry Monk’s Leeds sit in fifth and are five points clear of Fulham who are seventh, just outside the play-off spots.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
The Toon have enjoyed a fine season in the Championship following their relegation from the Premier League last year but have recently faltered after losing a couple of key performers.
Their top scorer Dwight Gayle limped off after 29 minutes in their last match, while Ciaran Clark has missed four games with a knee problem.
Speaking in the Guardian, Benitez said honestly about his team: “We’re going the right way but it’s clear we still have plenty of room for improvement. We can improve a lot of things.”
However, Benitez was quick to point out how he proud he is of what his team have achieved, saying, “The stats show how difficult this division is and how difficult it is to be where we are.”
The Spaniard also reiterated how important promotion was to the club: “This club, this city, these fans, they deserve to be in the Premier League,” Benítez said. “But first we have to get promoted. We have to actually do it.”
Should Newcastle beat Leeds tonight they could return to the summit of the Championship, if Brighton fail to get a result at Wolves, while Leeds could go third with a win.
In other Newcastle news, David Prutton has predicted which way the Leeds and Newcastle tie will go.