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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Despite transfer window difficulties, Rafa Benitez says Newcastle 'cannot make excuses' 

  • 'The main message from me for the fans is get behind the players because it's now the way'.
  • Spurs manager Mauricio Pchettino accepts Danny Rose apology over lack of signings.
  • Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur, Sunday, 4.30pm on BeIN Sports.

Rafael Benitez's Newcastle United face Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park in their opening 2017/18 Premier League assignment. Anthony Devlin / PA
Rafael Benitez's Newcastle United face Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park in their opening 2017/18 Premier League assignment. Anthony Devlin / PA

Rafael Benitez has told his players they cannot use Newcastle United's transfer window difficulties as an excuse for not performing in the Premier League.

The promoted club kick off the first season back in the top flight with a tough opening fixture against Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park on Sunday with their manager still hoping desperately for reinforcements after seeing many of his early targets slip through the net.

However, he is hoping the unity on and off the pitch which fuelled last season's Championship title triumph will come to the fore once again.

Benitez said: "The main message from me for the fans is get behind the players because it's now the way.

"I was telling the players that we cannot make excuses, so we have to be ready and try to win the games and that's it.

"Sometimes we will do it and sometimes we will not do it, but we have to be sure that every single game, the players give everything and myself and my staff will do the same."

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Newcastle's opening fixture could hardly have been much tougher with Tottenham, who have mounted a serious challenge for the Premier League title in each of the past two seasons, intent on repeating the feat this time around.

Their preparations have been dented somewhat by full-back Danny Rose's controversial comments - for which he offered an apology on Friday - after he hinted that he might have to leave the club to win the trophies he craves.

However, Benitez is not convinced Mauricio Pochettino's team will be distracted.

He said: "Pochettino is a great manager, that is obvious, and they have the same team that has finished second and third in the last two years, so that means they have a very good team.

"Everybody was praising the talent of this squad, the understanding between players, young players.

"When you have young players with a good understanding and another year of experience, they have to be better, so I don't think it will be a problem for them because they have the same manager, the same staff, the same players and more experience in the Premier League, so they will be even more dangerous."

Benitez expects to have Dwight Gayle, one of only two specialist strikers at the club, fit after a hamstring problem.

On the subject of Rose's comments, given in an interview with The Sun newspaper, Pochettino said he has forgiven his player after the left-back criticised the club in a controversial eve-of-season interview.

Spurs are yet to buy any new players in this transfer window and Rose, 27, said the club needed to sign "world-class players" and "not players you have to Google and say, 'Who's that?'"

But Pochettino said he himself had been considered an unknown when he arrived at Southampton in 2013 and also cited the rises of Spurs pair Eric Dier and Dele Alli and Chelsea's N'Golo Kante.

"If you remember four years ago, the people say, 'Who is Mauricio Pochettino?' I'm sure they used Google or Chrome!" Pochettino said in comments published by British newspapers on Saturday.

"But you know the problem. Straight away it went to the penalty I gave away against Michael Owen [while playing against England for Argentina at the 2002 World Cup]. That situation killed me! But look now.

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"And when you sign a player like Eric Dier, who is an international today when no one knew him before. Or Dele Alli or Kante."

Rose is reported to have been fined two weeks' wages over the interview, but with the England international having issued a public apology, Pochettino said the matter was closed.