Rafa Benitez reacts to criticism of his Newcastle players

"We are a team that came from the Championship and where we are now could be expected".

Naturally we are all desperate that this happens, no matter who owns the club, but Newcastle play West Ham, Brighton and Stoke by the close of New Year's Day and even Swansea on Saturday 13 January would be maybe too early for any new signings to be properly integrated, even if they are brought in as soon as the transfer window opens.

They were due to celebrate in London after Saturday's trip to Arsenal, but after their 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Gunners, the players have cancelled their end of year party.

The fans know the team will be tough. I think it's the right thing. "When you get to this stage of the season... If we continue doing that we will have a couple of games where we can get better results and gain more confidence".

"Normally we will not do it, and the players have also chose to cancel their Christmas party because they have taken responsibility and they think it's important to focus on football", the Spaniard said.

Newcastle, whose only win in their last 13 league games came against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace, take on West Ham next weekend. "We had plenty of chances".

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"We need to be competitive like today and keep going".

"This group of players is working so hard, so I could not have said to them you do not deserve to do this or that - they are giving everything".

"We were signing players for 200,000 Euros, some of them, and some of the top sides were playing £5million for players of the same age. We just have to be sure we have the options and see if they are possible because sometimes January is very hard".

"I was talking with Lee Charnley, the managing director, and we know more or less what we have". We have to learn quickly and make sure we take our chances when we get them.

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  • Darren Santiago