Rafa Benitez lays out his case for Newcastle United’s survival

@NUFC
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He wins a lot, but Rafa Benitez just needs to win a little to secure himself instant hero status in Newcastle.

The new Magpies boss, 55, takes over for Steve McClaren with his new side embroiled in a relegation fight.

[ MORE: Shelvey says Rafa’s a good fit Analyzing the relegation fight (video) ]

Newcastle is a point behind both Norwich City and Sunderland in the race for 17th — or, unlikely, better — but has played one less game than the Canaries and two fewer than the Black Cats.

And they play both sides by April 2’s trip to Carrow Road.

From The Chronicle:

“First 24 hours has been intense but great positive atmosphere and credit to the players.

“You know this is a massive club and it’s not doing what it should do, hopefully we can make the fans proud again.

“I have some experience of relegation battles but how you have to approach the games are the same as when you want to win.

“I expect 100% from the players every game.”

That last part flat-out was not happening under McClaren, and a coach of Benitez’s magnitude will go a long way to making sure effort is at its peak.

That said, Norwich works its tail off and Sunderland improved mightily in the transfer window. It will take Swansea or Crystal Palace dropping off to keep more than one of the current three favorites in the Premier League