Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez insists the odds were stacked against Aston Villa securing an immediate return to the Premier League from the moment they were relegated.
The Championship rivals clash at St James’ Park on Monday, with the Magpies knowing that victory would restore them to the summit of the table at the expense of Brighton.
Villa reinforced their squad heavily during the January transfer window but have still lost their last four league matches, leaving Benitez to point out the difficulty of life in the second tier of English football.
“Some people think that if you spend money you have to be better, but in football one plus one does not always make two. It proves how difficult the Championship is,” Benitez said.
“You see teams going down through relegation and they cannot go up the season after. That shows how hard the competition is.
“It is easier for a team that has been in the top six for a long time to go up than a team that has come down.
“Why? Because when you go down it means something is wrong and you have to change a lot of things.
“A team like Brighton who are already there only have to change two or three players in the summer. If you go down, you maybe have to change half a team.
“I can understand why it has been difficult for Villa. It will be a tough game for us because they are a good team and they have good players.
Steve Bruce signed Sam Johnstone, Henri Lansbury, James Bree, Conor Hourihane, Neil Taylor and Scott Hogan last month and the Villa boss has called for patience in their development.
“They just need time to settle and get adjusted to life at Aston Villa. But they are all made of the right stuff,” Bruce said.