Newcastle players ‘100%’ behind Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.
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Martin Dubravka says Newcastle United’s players remain “100% behind” Rafa Benitez – after suffering a seventh Premier League defeat.

The club is propping up the division ahead of Saturday’s game against Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium.

Benitez’s position has been questioned by pundits from outside Tyneside, and there were boos from frustrated fans at St James’s Park after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion, which was watched by owner Mike Ashley.

The decision to take off Yoshinori Muto and replace him with Joselu was also booed by some supporters.

Benitez, however, retains the support of the overwhelming majority of United fans.

They blame the team’s poor form on Ashley’s repeated failure to back Benitez in the transfer market.

Dubravka, for his part, has dismissed “speculation” over Benitez’s future ahead of the Southampton game.

“We’re 100% behind him and he’s 100% behind us,” said the goalkeeper. “It’s just speculation and just rumours.”

United have take just two points so far this season, and the club is three points adrift of Premier League safety.

“I don’t think it’s time to panic now as there’s still a lot of games in front of us,” said 29-year-old Dubravka. “We can still take some points. I know that it can happen really soon. If we can take some victories, the confidence will go higher.

“I have to say that all of us are behind each other, behind the manager. All the club are supporting us. I don’t think it’s time to speculate (about Benitez’s position).”

Newcastle dominated the game against Brighton, but couldn’t score. And a deflected goal from a dispute corner gave Chris Hughton’s side all three points.

“We didn’t score, but we have to say we didn’t deserve to lose,” said Dubravka. “They had, I think, only one attempt on goal and scored. Unfortunately it was a deflection. I think we were the better team, but unfortunately we didn’t win.

“We created a lot of pressure, especially in the second half, but they stayed in a block and it was really difficult to find a space to shoot on the goal or make some better chances to score. Unfortunately, it was not enough.”