When he took over at St James’ Park almost a year ago, Rafa Benitez inherited a side that had forgotten how to win on their travels. Newcastle lost 14 of their 19 away games last season, and failed to record a single victory away from Tyneside under Benitez.
Things could hardly be more different in the current campaign, and having watched his side win at both Brighton and Huddersfield in the last seven days, Benitez has been hugely impressed by his players’ approach to facing the best teams in the league in their own backyard.
“The away form was on the list of things I had to find a solution for,” said the Newcastle boss. “But when you have a team that responds to the training sessions and works hard to follow the game plan, it’s easier to approach the games.
“We’re organised, we press, and it’s a lot about effort. If you want to improve anything, you need to have the right attitude.
“In modern football, we talk too much about quality, but what is quality? It’s not just about stopping the ball and passing it 40 metres or scoring a brilliant free-kick – that is technical ability. Quality is about doing the right things. To win games, you need both effort and attitude.”