Newcastle boss not surprise by bright start to the season

Rafa Benitez gives instructions to captain Jamaal Lascelles in Newcastle's weekend win over Stoke
Rafa Benitez gives instructions to captain Jamaal Lascelles in Newcastle's weekend win over Stoke

Rafa Benitez says he’s NOT surprised by Newcastle United’s start to the season.

Benitez’s side are fourth in the Premier League table after a run of three successive victories.

Newcastle beat Stoke City 2-1 on Saturday thanks to goals from Jamaal Lascelles and Christian Atsu.

The last time United won three of its five opening top-flight games was in the 2000-01 season.

Benitez said: “The team has not really surprised me, because I watch them in training every day and they train well.”

Benitez, however, still sees a lot of room for improvement.

“There are things we are not doing well, but I can see where we can improve,” said Newcastle’s manager.

“There are three or four things we can improve. The players are trying to understand the way we have to play our game.

“We have to play with our own style of play. We are not a team that have a lot of possession, so we have to play to our strengths and we are doing that now.”

Newcastle will take a lot of confidence into this Sunday’s game against Brighton at the Amex Stadium.

“Getting points on the board early gives you the confidence to do things,” said Benitez.

“When I came here, we couldn’t afford to make any mistakes.

“Now, we know we have time to improve things. If we do make mistakes, we don’t need to panic and can carry on doing the things we have to do.

“The players will appreciate that.”

Meanwhile, Stoke defender Erik Pieters was frustrated at Lascelles’ winner, which was headed from a Matt Ritchie corner.

“We’ve been watching videos of Newcastle, and then we concede an identical goal to theirs (against Swansea City),” said Pieters.

“We know they’re going to be strong in that area, but still we have to make it as difficult as possible when they come charging in and we didn’t.”