Should victory against Leeds be followed by a combination of another three points at Ipswich Town on Monday and an Easter defeat for Huddersfield Town, Andrelton Simmons Womens Jersey Tyneside will be in party mode by Monday tea time but that finely calibrated promotion equation contains too many ifs for the Spaniard’s comfort. Goalline technology given early Championship debut in play-offs Read more “This club, this city, these fans, they deserve to be in the Premier League,” Benítez says. “But first we have to get promoted. We have to actually do it.” Newcastle are two points behind Brighton, the leaders, who have been inspired by Anthony Knockaert’s mesmerising wing play and can also be promoted on Monday if results go in their favour. The 10 points that separate Benítez’s team from third-placed Huddersfield may suggest Newcastle have cantered through the Championship but in recent weeks injuries to Dwight Gayle, their key striker, and Ciaran Clark, the side’s best defender, have led to a wobble. There have been games in which the Champions League-winning former Liverpool manager has really had to earn his £5m-a-year salary, matches when Benítez’s subtle tactical tweaks have camouflaged the team’s flaws. Authentic Joe Theismann Womens Jersey Even so, there is a sense that the former Real Madrid manager – by consensus among the world’s top 10 coaches – is perhaps not receiving the credit he deserves. Those critics who assume Newcastle should already be promoted with more than 100 points underestimate the difficulties of the second tier for a club which, despite spending almost £55m on new players last summer, also raised £85m from outgoing transfers. Benítez, after narrowly failing to keep Newcastle in the Premier League following Steve McClaren’s sacking last March, agreed to drop down a division “because of the fans and the stature of this club” but knew he was risking his reputation. This club, this city, these fans, they deserve to be in the Premier League Rafael Benítez He regularly points out that only four of the 15 sides relegated from the top flight in the five seasons spanning 2011-2016 returned at the first attempt. “The stats show how difficult this division is and how difficult it is to be where we are,” he says. If fears that Newcastle might emulate the struggles endured by Leeds – play-off-bound courtesy of Garry Monk’s coaching and Chris Wood’s goals but experiencing a 13th season of top-flight exile – were overblown, their manager never underestimated the trickiness of his task. “You see where Norwich and Aston Villa are?” Benítez says, issuing a reminder that the two sides who came down with the Tyneside club will be staying put. “There’s a massive difference between having to change half your squad like we did and having your team ready like Brighton or Sheffield Wednesday [sixth with six points collected against Newcastle] were.

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