Rafa Benitez brushes off Newcastle criticism ahead of Brighton clash
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 29/12/17 6:46pm
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez has brushed off criticism of his recent defensive tactics as he plots victory over Brighton this weekend.
The Magpies suffered a 1-0 home defeat to runaway leaders Manchester City in midweek but their stifling approach was roundly criticised by onlookers.
Sky Sports' Gary Neville deemed Newcastle too negative, while City boss Pep Guardiola admitted he would prefer opponents "to play" against his side, but the Spaniard was unmoved as he turned his attention to a game he believes is eminently more winnable.
"I didn't hear any criticism from my players," Benitez said.
"I can understand the job of the pundit, to create things that you will ask me about in a press conference for the audience.
"We are managers, we take responsibility for our decisions. We were nearly there [against City]. Imagine if we scored a late goal, everyone would be saying: 'Fantastic, perfect'.
"I've seen a lot of teams doing the same against Manchester City and nobody was criticising them."
Benitez will take a different approach as the two sides which battled out last season's Sky Bet Championship title race go head-to-head at St James' Park, and he will hope they edge this game as they did that duel.
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He said: "We want to win and we think we can win, but Brighton will be thinking exactly the same. We'll try to score goals and play at the level we did at West Ham.
"These are the games where people expect us to compete and to win, so my concern is to approach the games with the belief that we can win."
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