Rafael Benitez has challenged his Newcastle players to rediscover their ‘character and passion’ or face going down with a whimper.
Comical defending and a limp, frozen performance from Newcastle gifted Southampton an easy 3-1 win at St Mary’s on Saturday and pushed them closer to relegation.
Shane Long, Graziano Pelle and Victor Wanyama struck all too easily for Southampton, consigning Newcastle to a sixth defeat in a seven-match winless run.
Manager Benitez implored Newcastle’s fuming fans to back his beleaguered side ahead of Saturday’s critical home clash with Swansea, demanding a victory to keep the survival fight alive.
“Character and passion, and positive play – that’s the very least of what is expected every game, for 90 minutes,” said Benitez. “But it is clear that that was very much lacking in the first half.
“That’s not a situation that we can have away from home, so we have to make changes to how we’ll play away from home. Before that we’ll have to prepare for the next home game, and we just hope we can keep the fans behind us.
“It’s very clear that we can say nothing to our fans. They come here to see the team fighting and winning and we didn’t do that in the first half. So you have to understand their feelings.
“But we’ll need support from the fans, we need them behind us to drive us on, to get a result against Swansea.”