Rafa Benitez improved Newcastle - Coloccini

Rafa Benitez
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Fabricio Coloccini says Rafa Benitez changed Newcastle United for the better – before he ran out of time.

Sunderland’s 3-0 win over Everton on Wednesday night condemned Newcastle to the Championship.

We changed the right way. Maybe it was too late.

Benitez succeeded the sacked Steve McClaren early March. The 56-year-old had just 10 games – two more than Alan Shearer was given the last time Newcastle went down in 2009 – in which to turn fortunes around.

Fans now fear the club will also lose Benitez.

Newcastle take on Tottenham Hotspur at St James’s Park on Sunday in what could be Benitez’s last match in charge, as he has a break clause in his contract allowing him to leave in the event of relegation.

Asked about the team’s improvement under Benitez, Coloccini said: “We changed a lot of things.

“We changed the right way. Maybe it was too late, and that’s why we are in this position.”

Newcastle lost 10 successive away games in all competitions, and that run, ultimately, cost the club a place in the Premier League, though Coloccini, sidelined since February with a calf injury, feels there were a “lot” of factors behind United’s relegation.

Asked about the team’s form away from home, Coloccini added: “It’s not one thing. It’s a lot of things.

“Maybe I’m not the right person to speak about that. I know I’m the captain, but I think it’s more (for) the club to speak about those things.

“We just have to try to win the next game.”

Coloccini is ruled out of the final game with injury.