Rafael Benitez believes Everton can keep Newcastle United’s survival hopes alive until the final day by getting a positive result at Sunderland this week.
Newcastle are five games unbeaten after a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa on Saturday, but it was a case of two points dropped rather than one gained for the Magpies as Sunderland came from behind to beat Chelsea and drop their north-east rivals back into the relegation zone.
The Black Cats can ensure their survival if they win their game in hand against Everton at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday, but Benitez is hopeful the Toffees can do his side a favour.
“I think Everton are going well away, so we have to believe they can get that result at Sunderland,” Benitez said.
“We cannot control what they do, we are in a bad position now because we have been a bit unlucky in a few matches but it is too late to change anything.
“All we can do is be sure that if we get an opportunity to save ourselves in our last match against Tottenham we are ready to take it.”
Asked if he could have made more of a different had he taken over earlier, Benitez said: “I don’t think that is a fair question. I accepted the challenge because I had confidence in the potential of the club.
“It could be different if Jack Colback or Aleksandar Mitrovic had scored. We would have given ourselves a fighting chance.”
On the possibility of him remaining in charge at St James’ Park even if the club are relegated, Benitez added: “I still think we have a chance of staying up and for now we will be continuing with this idea.”