Rafael Benitez believes he “saw plenty of positives” from Newcastle as his first match in charge started with a 1-0 defeat to Leicester.
The Magpies went down to a stunning overhead kick from Shinji Okazaki at the King Power Stadium and remain in 19th position, one point adrift of safety ahead of their gargantuan clash against fellow strugglers and bitter rivals Sunderland on Sunday afternoon.
“We started really well and had two good chances. After 20 minutes they started pushing and they scored and played the game they like to play on the counter attack,” Benitez told Sky Sports.
“I wasn’t happy with the goal because there were too many balls bouncing in the box. I would like to think about the positives. We reacted well and were pushing well.
“I thought that we could get a result and I was convinced we could do it. But they worked really hard and are pushing and their tempo is not easy for any team.
The Spaniard was happy with the characteristics displayed by his side against the Premier League leaders and already started to underline the huge importance of the Tyne-Wear derby this weekend.
“I will take the positives – we did well, you could see the commitment and the passion,” Benitez added.
“There were a lot of positives and the team showed that they are convinced they can win. Every game will be important for us.
“We know our next game against Sunderland is a derby and it will be important for everyone but I have a feeling the fans are really good and they are the number 12 for the next game. We have plenty of things to do and they need to rest and work hard.”
The former Real Madrid boss reserved special praise for all those connected with Newcastle and said a positive mental attitude can help the Magpies retain their Premier League status for next season.
“I like the people, the staff, the fans and everyone is behind the club,” Benitez said.
“Everything is positive but now we have to give them what they want on the pitch. We cannot change this result but we can be happy in terms of the commitment of the players.”