Benítez: "We have to carry on and stay calm"

Rafa Benítez has confirmed that Salomón Rondón is in line to return against Southampton at St. Mary's on Saturday.


The Magpies make the lengthy journey to the South Coast as the Premier League's basement side, with last Saturday's home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion prolonging their winless start. Thankfully, though, Benítez will have nearly a full squad to choose from against Mark Hughes' troops – who sit just four points better off than United after a five-game run without victory.

"Rondón is available, he's in the squad. Everyone is available apart from (Florian) Lejeune and (Jamie) Sterry," the Magpies' boss said. The Venezuelan has not figured since September's 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace, in which he was forced off at half time after making just his third start for the club." You can see that we signed (Rondón) as a main striker. We were missing him for games. When he played against Crystal Palace, he was injured and it was a pity. Now he's fit, hopefully he can stay fit for a while and at least increase the competition between the offensive players – that is something that is good for any team."

Two of the Magpies' six Premier League goals this season came against Manchester United at Old Trafford three weeks ago, when Benítez's side raced into a healthy lead early on, only to end up on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline. Their first-half display is something the Spaniard is hopeful they can emulate on Saturday, while he also insisted that he will not be making any wholesale changes to his players' day-to-day routine – despite their current predicament.

"I would like to see us play at the level we played against Manchester United at Old Trafford," he said. "I didn't say we were better away – that is not true. But, when you play away and you play the way we play – with the chances we had, the belief and the determination – I like to see the team playing at this level.

"We have to try and stay calm, and try to reassure the players. (What) we did last year is the way to change things now – (we have to) try and do things in the same way. We were talking about the methodology, the training sessions, the approach for the games – a lot of the things we did last year and two years ago and went right – why do we have to change all of these things? Obviously, we are changing little things that we have to improve – we have to make less mistakes, and we have to be more precise in the final third. But, in terms of everything that we have been doing for years and have been successful, we have to carry on like this. When you start changing too many things, it's a massive risk. It's a massive risk. When you start changing this and changing that, it could be worse. I think we are so close to being out of the bottom three, and we are so close to winning the first game, we have to believe we will do it because we did it last year."