Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez 'disappointed' as relegation looms

Newcastle are third from bottom in the table, a point behind Sunderland, although their rivals have a crucial game in hand which could seal the Magpies' fate.

"He has quality, not just with his free-kicks and the way he plays but also he works so hard, helping the team in defence".

Rafael Benitez's side have gone unbeaten in the four games since the France midfielder was handed the armband in the wake of Jonjo Shelvey losing the role after being dropped. I didn't follow the game but I think Sunderland had very good news. "I don't know whether a bit of fatigue kicked in or what, but we weren't quite as energetic as we have been". But we just have to try to win the next two games.

"We can not control what they will do", said Benitez.

"I have not been thinking too much about that", Benitez said, "but Everton were doing well away from home".

"We will go there looking to keep a clean sheet but obviously our main focus is on getting three points". And if you feel up to it, please leave us a review on iTunes!

"If we don't then, we will give the other teams an opportunity to stay up instead of us".

To avoid what would have been viewed as a slap in the face for supporters, and the possibility of inciting anger in the stands, the club have made a decision to cancel the traditional lap of appreciation that is customary following the final home game of the season.

Villa fans revelled in Newcastle's misfortune; the chance to make life more miserable for another huge club the only thing left to amuse them after their own dismal campaign. The players were too tense and we couldn't do what we wanted.

The former Aston Villa club captain Gabriel Agbonlahor looks likely to spend the remainder of the season training with the reserve team as Villa Park prepares to bid farewell to the Premier League.

The Magpies will join Villa in the Championship next term if Sunderland win one of their two remaining games. "We spoke all week about the supporters, because next season this club is going to need them, and at Watford with the performance I thought we edged towards them and again today I think we took another step", he told reporters.

The Everton fans in the Transfer Tavern don't doubt Benitez's credentials, but are not sure they want him at their club, and would sooner see someone like Martin O'Neill given the job should it become available this summer. "The important thing is that if they [Sunderland] don't get the result we have to be ready".

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