Rafael Benitez has called on Newcastle fans to unite behind the club in their fight to steer clear of relegation.
The Magpies have slipped to within two points of the drop zone after winning only one of their last eight Premier League matches and Benitez senses an air of gloom among supporters.
Talks between a consortium led by former Chelsea and Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon and the club over a possible takeover are ongoing, while no players have yet been signed during the transfer window.
“This is a big city and it’s a massive club and some people are thinking ‘you have to do this and you have to do that’,” Benitez said before Saturday’s trip to Chelsea.
“The reality is when we stick together, when we are working hard together, when we are united, we are stronger.
“We saw that in the Championship when we won and we saw that last year when we finished 10th.
“This year, people are saying ‘you will do this, you will do that.’The reality is that we have to stick together to the end.
“It’s very clear for everyone. Fans, players, staff, everyone here. So we have to stay united, we have to keep supporting the players.
“This group of players, they care, they work hard and they fight.
“Sometimes you have a bad game or a bad moment, but the next game is another challenge and we have to be ready.”
Benitez refused to discuss the club’s progress in the transfer window, nor was he willing to comment when asked about his own contract talks.
The Spaniard said he thought his current squad was strong enough to stay up for a second season, but stressed they would only do so if he and his players had the fans’ full backing.
“We saw last year that we can do it, but if we want to do it this year we have to make sure everybody is united,” he said.
“We cannot be wasting energy about the tactics, or substitutions, or the signings, this player is good, this player is bad, because we have what we have and we are what we are.”
Benitez confirmed Federico Fernandez (hip) and Ciaran Clark (ankle) would return to contention for Saturday evening’s clash at Stamford Bridge.
But key midfielder Jonjo Shelvey (thigh) and defender Paul Dummett (hamstring) are expected to miss out.
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