Rafael Benitez believes it will be “another miracle” if his Newcastle side retain their Premier League status.
The Spanish manager said finishing 10th last season was an extraordinary performance but added that would be matched simply by beating the drop this term given the fact that the Magpies’ relegation rivals had all outspent the north-east side in pre-season.
Newcastle’s position has also been complicated by owner Mike Ashley being frustrated in his wish to sell the club.
“We have to be realistic and understand that we will be in the bottom half during the whole season,” said Benitez ahead of the Boxing Day clash away to his former side Liverpool who are looking to cement their lead at the top of the table.
“For me, it is almost clear and if we can be better than three teams, it will be another miracle.
“It was a miracle last year. People were thinking, ‘Oh, you finished 10th…’, but with a couple fewer wins, we could have been in the bottom five, so it was a miracle.
“If we do the same this year with teams spending even more money than last year, it will be a miracle.”
He added: “I know what is coming now and I know where we are. You can see the team — the team is trying a lot of things, but still it’s not enough sometimes to get the points, and it will be like that.
“If we are under pressure and we feel this pressure, we will not be better, we can make more mistakes,” explained Benitez.
Newcastle are currently five points above the bottom three heading into the busy holiday period after last weekend’s goalless draw with Fulham.
“I’m trying to tell everyone, realise where we are, realise what we have to do and if we do well, fine, we can finish 10th or whatever.
“But if we think we have to beat these teams which have spent £100 million ($126 million), every one of them, during the summer, if we think we can beat them easily every game, no chance. We are wrong, 100 percent.”
jdg/bsp (Additional editing by Sean McMahon)
© Agence France-Presse