After 18 Premier League games played, Newcastle United sit 15th in the table. The Magpies have won just four games so far, but are currently five points clear of the relegation zone.
Rafa Benitez’s side had a poor start to the season, and had to wait until November to pick up their first win of the campaign. This poor run of form can be mostly put down to a very demanding fixture list, though. Since picking up their first three points against Watford in November, the Magpies have been on a decent run of form. Including the game against Watford, they have played eight games; winning four, drawing two and losing two. Things have been a lot more positive around St. James’ Park since.
But Benitez believes it was a miracle that Newcastle managed to stay up last season – they finished 10th; 11 points clear of relegation – and thinks it will be a miracle if they stay up this season.
“We have to be realistic and understand that we will be in the bottom half during the whole season,” he said. “For me, it is almost clear and if we can be better than three teams, it will be another miracle.
“It was a miracle last year. People were thinking, ‘Oh, you finished 10th…’, but with a couple fewer wins, we could have been in the bottom five, so it was a miracle. If we do the same this year with teams spending even more money than last year, it will be a miracle.”
Owner Mike Ashley, who wants to sell the club but hasn’t received any offers that he deems acceptable, has come in for a lot of flak because he won’t put any money into the squad. Because of this, it would be a surprise if Newcastle were big spenders in the January transfer window. And Benitez thinks they may struggle if he’s not backed.
“I know what is coming now and I know where we are,” Benitez said. “You can see the team – the team is trying a lot of things, but still it’s not enough sometimes to get the points, and it will be like that.
“If we are under pressure and we feel this pressure, we will not be better, we can make more mistakes. I’m trying to tell everyone, realise where we are, realise what we have to do and if we do well, fine, we can finish 10th or whatever.
“But if we think we have to beat these teams which have spent £100million, every one of them, during the summer, if we think we can beat them easily every game, no chance. We are wrong, 100 per cent.”
In recent times, Newcastle have brought some players in, with the likes of Yoshinori Muto, Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar, Martin Dubravka and Salomon Rondon coming in. But these players were only bought after Newcastle sold some players on, and the club ended the summer transfer window in profit. Ashley will continue to be heavily criticised until he either sells the club or pumps some money in to help improve the squad. But, realistically, neither of those look likely to happen any time soon.