Benitez not giving up on Magpies' survival bid

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez with player Siem De Jong.
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez with player Siem De Jong. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Newcastle United are helpless when it comes to controlling their own destiny for Premier League survival and could be down before kicking another ball.

Yet, manager Rafael Benitez insists his side have not given up hope despite a huge change in momentum in the relegation scrap on Saturday.

Newcastle's goal-less draw at already-relegated Aston Villa combined with rivals Sunderland's dramatic 3-2 win over Chelsea means the Magpies' immediate future is out of their hands.

With only one more match to play, to Sunderland's two, the tepid draw with Aston Villa returned Benitez to the bottom three, with limited hope of climbing out, five-match unbeaten run or not.

One victory for Sunderland in either of their final two games against Everton and Watford will condemn Newcastle to the Championship next season. Even a point for the Wearside club will leave Benitez's side needing to beat Tottenham on the final day to stay up.

"It is bad and simple," said Benitez after seeing his side fail to beat Villa, the Premier League's worst team. "We have to wait and afterwards try to win depending on what they do during the week.

"I think it can be done. Obviously it depends on them (Sunderland) more than us but still, if they cannot win the next game, then in our last one we will have to fight, try to get three points and see what can happen.

"Everybody is disappointed. It's normal now so the only thing you can say is to try to be ready for training and recovering and ready for the week, because we still have to play a game and we want to get three points.

"The important thing is that if they (Sunderland) don't get the result, we have to be ready."

Norwich could also still survive and send both north-east clubs down, but the Canaries, like Newcastle, are now hoping for two poor Sunderland results.

Alex Neil's side have lost four in a row, without scoring in any of them. If Sunderland win on Wednesday, the Canaries will be playing in the Championship next season.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2016, with the headline 'Benitez not giving up on Magpies' survival bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe