Benitez bans talks of points totals and promotion at Newcastle United

Newcastle winger Matt Ritchie
Newcastle winger Matt Ritchie
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Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez has banned talk of points totals and promotion from the St James’s Park dressing-room.

Instead, the Spaniard says the players have their firmly on the task ahead – making sure they keep their run of eight wins on the bounce going at Elland Road.

The Tynesiders face a potentially tricky trip to in-form Leeds United this coming Sunday.

While some fans thoughts have began to wander to promotion title winning parties, a better points tally than 2009-10 and even beating Reading’s 106-point Football League record, Benitez’s will not allow his players lose focus.

When asked whether he thought the Magpies could break the Royals’ Championship record, Benitez, whose side are three points clear at the top of the second tier, said: “No I am sure it will be very, very difficult.

“You know our idea is to approach it one game at a time.

“Every game coming up is the most important one. That is it.”

While some have criticised the level of competition Newcastle have faced this season since relegation, Benitez has been impressed by the quality in the Championship.

“It is good,” said the United boss.

“Everybody thinks it is long ball, second ball football.

“This is not the way it is.

“It is quite interesting for a manager because you have to adapt to a number of styles of football.”

Newcastle lost the first two games of the season – to Fulham and Huddersfield – but have since gone to take the division by storm, wracking up 12 wins in the 14 fixtures since.

Benitez admits it took his players a little bit of time to adapt to life at this level.

He said: “We have to understand the style of the Championship.

“When we play at home you want to play fluid football with the ball on the floor. Away you have to defend high balls and set pieces.

“The team is learning it is growing, because the results are good.

“At the beginning it was not nice. We felt we could do better.

“We did not deserve to lose both games but we had to manage it.

“We had to keep sending the same message to the players and eventually things improved.”