1. ITV Report

Rafa hails Newcastle's winning mentality after surge to safety

Rafael Benitez has praised Newcastle's winning mentality Credit: PA

Rafael Benitez has praised Newcastle's winning mentality after seeing them effectively secure their Premier League status with five games to spare.

The promoted Magpies head for Everton on Monday evening sitting in 10th place in the table and all but mathematically assured of a second top-flight campaign after a run of four successive victories over Southampton, Huddersfield, Leicester and Arsenal.

That was perhaps beyond the wildest dreams of fans who saw the club fail to win in nine attempts and collect only one point in the process before the turn of the year.

But Benitez, who guided Newcastle to a 1-0 win over Manchester United on February 11 to spark their surge to safety, insists his approach has never changed.

Always I talk about winning mentality and when you have a winning mentality - and we have shown that - you try to win every game, you try to go there and get three points in every game.

I have said that against the majority of the teams and some people have said, 'Maybe one point is enough', but Leicester was the last example.

We wanted to win and I told the players, 'Listen, we know it's a difficult game because they have very good players and they are doing well, but if we do things in the same way, we can beat anyone'.

You have to have your day and maybe if it's a top side, they will have their day, but when you want to win, you have to have this mentality. Winning mentality means approaching every game with the idea of getting three points."

– Rafa Benitez
St James' Park Credit: PA

Victory at Goodison would see Newcastle leapfrog their hosts, although asked what he was expecting, Benitez replied:

As always in the Premier League, a tough game, difficult because they are a good team.

Even if people say they are not doing so well, still they have some good players and in front of their fans, they will give everything.

It's important in football to stay calm with no complacency, so we will go there with a lot of respect and sure that it will be a tough game, but then try to win and get three points against a good team again."

– Rafa Benitez