March 20, 2018 / 8:06 AM / a month ago

Newcastle must change if they are to progress - Benitez

(Reuters) - Newcastle United must effect significant changes and establish a clear structure for progress off the pitch to improve their on-field performances and compete at a higher level, manager Rafa Benitez has said.

Britain Soccer Football - Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United - Sky Bet Championship - Molineux - 11/2/17 Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Ed Sykes Livepic

The Spaniard took charge of Newcastle in 2016 and helped them earn promotion from the Championship (second tier) last season but the club’s inconsistency in the Premier League leaves them four points above 18th-placed Southampton after 30 matches.

Newcastle’s troubles have been blamed on poor transfer dealings with owner Mike Ashley being criticised for not providing adequate funds for Benitez’s recruitment plans.

“We have to change things,” Benitez told the Times. “I came here with the idea to compete and to create a strong team and a strong club, to compete every year. What we have to do if we stay up is improve...

“When I said I wanted to stay I could see the potential for this club to be in the top 10 or even higher, but it depends on consistency. You have to have a structure. Everybody has to be organised.

“... To compete and be capable of winning something, you need to have the plan and the process. Everything has to be... settled down, that’s not the right phrase, but more clear.”

A potential takeover also adds to the uncertainty surrounding the club.

Benitez is loved by Newcastle fans for guiding the team’s meteoric rise and choosing to stay on as their boss but the Spaniard says that the support comes with its own burden.

“When you know the fans are against you, it’s not the same passion,” Benitez added. “When they support me in the way they’re supporting me here, you feel this responsibility. I am really proud of that...

“Everybody expects me to be right every time. I’m not, but I try to do my best, to make sure I make less mistakes, to be sure this team will stay up.

“I sleep, but I feel this support and I feel this responsibility. Not just for the games and the performances, but every decision.”

Newcastle host 15th-placed Huddersfield Town in the league on March 31.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru

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