Rafael Benitez is confident that he will keep Newcastle in the Premier League this season, but admitted that it will be “difficult”.
The Magpies boss saw his side’s winless start to the league season extend to nine games, a fate they last suffered 120 years ago in 1898 when they went 10 without a victory, as Brighton snatched all three points with a 1-0 win at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Five successive home defeats have done little to ease the anxiety around a club which has seemingly staggered from one crisis to another throughout its recent history.
Asked if he remains confident he can drag them out of the current alarming tailspin, Benitez replied: “Yes.”
Asked further if the situation Newcastle are now in is the toughest he has faced as a manager, he added: “Yes, at the moment, yes. I have had a lot of situations, but at the moment, obviously it’s a difficult task.”
Beram Kayal’s first-half strike was enough to claim the win for Brighton, who last won away from home in the top flight against Swansea on November 4 last year.
There was an element of fortune about it as Jose Izquierdo’s shot clipped both defender Paul Dummett and the midfielder on its way past keeper Martin Dubravka, although there was no luck about the way the Seagulls defended as Newcastle sought a way back into the game.
Benitez said: “The chances we created, we could have beaten Brighton. We didn’t do it.
“They did well – they managed the game, they wasted time, they were doing what they had to do to get a result and we didn’t create enough, or we didn’t create enough clear chances or we didn’t take our chances, and that’s it.”