Rafa Benitez says supporters can be the "difference" following win over Derby

Rafa Benitez says supporters can be the "difference" following win over Derby

Newcastle fans voiced their support to Benitez after reports of a behind the scenes rift with unpopular owner Mike Ashley was reported in the build-up the game.

Jordan Cronin

Rafael Benitez heaped praise on Newcastle United fans following their support during their important win over Derby County. 

Steve McClaren's return to St James' Park would have usually stolen the headlines. Though with events that have surrounded the club in midweek regarding Benitez' future, the Geordies directed their attentions towards their manager by singing his name throughout the tie on Saturday afternoon. 

Rumours circulated early January that Toon owner Mike Ashley had reinstated his controversial transfer policy and because there were no additions added to Newcastle's squad, that now looks to be true, leaving Benitez' future after the summer in doubt as he seeks reassurances. 

However, one thing is for sure, Benitez promised supporters in his pre-match Derby press conference that he will not quit the club as the task of promotion continues. The ex-Real Madrid manager stated that wants everyone to pull in the same direction and contribute to guiding the Magpies back to the Premier League. 

The United supporters showed that they are right behind their manager and their club, which Benitez showed his appreciation for after the victory over the Rams. 

St James' Park felt loud again

Although St James' Park can be accused of not being loud enough recently, when everyone plans to pull together, it really is an influential atmosphere for the home side's players. Fans spoke of making the Derby clash a special one from the stands, and they did to their credit, deliver. 

As the crowd echoed out the name of Benitez and "stand up if you love Rafa", Newcastle showed unity, which Benitez told was the "positive thing was the communication with fans and players".

Newcastle fans' intent was evident from the start with a stunning flag display prior kick-off courtesy of work from a fan-funded organisation, Gallowgate Flags. The display was acknowledged by Benitez and his players, “Games like this one, from the beginning you could see the fans were ready to help the team and to cheer the players.

"The players were responding and we started the game creating chances. At least we were shooting from everywhere and the fans were happy with that," the ex-Liverpool boss added. 

United's positive start was rewarded when Matt Ritchie struck the only goal of the game in the 27th minute after his shot from outside the area dipped over Scott Carson via Bradley Johnson, "We scored the goal and you could feel the atmosphere. That’s what we need until the end of the season.

"They realised they can make the difference," Benitez said as he calls on the supporters to "keep this atmosphere until the end of the season. The fans know the players will run a little bit more if they can feel this support".