Captain Fabricio Coloccini says he wished that The Magpies employed the services of the former Liverpool tactician much earlier.
He admits that the coach ran out of time to help salvage the club from relegation form top flight football. Benitez was only brought in with 10 games of the season remaining and with the Magpies already languishing in the Premier League’s bottom three after predecessor Steve McClaren was given the first 28 matches of the campaign.
It took a few weeks for the ex-Liverpool boss’ alterations to pay dividends but, despite United’s relegation having been confirmed on Wednesday night after Sunderland defeated Everton, Newcastle are unbeaten in their last five outings. Newcastle captain Coloccini insists Benitez has changed things at the club in “the right way” – but has simply run out of time.
When asked about the impact Benitez has made in just two short months, the 34-year-old Argentine replied saying:
“We changed a lot of things. We changed the right way.
“Maybe it was too late, and that’s why we are in this position.”
The goalless draw at already-relegated Aston Villa last weekend stretched Newcastle’s winless run on the road to 11 league games, and all-but condemned United. Coloccini, who has not made an appearance since mid-February due to injury, is at a loss to explain why United are so bad away from home. He said:
“It’s not one thing – it’s a lot of things.
“Maybe I’m not the right person to speak about that.
“I know I’m the captain, but I think it’s more [for] the club to speak about those things.
“Now we are in this situation.
“We just have to try to win the next game. Nothing else.”
The United skipper has been ruled out for the last few months with a calf strain, and he suffered a relapse during training last month. He is yet to make an appearance under Benitez, and will not be fit to face Tottenham Hotspur in Sunday’s dead rubber either, but is adamant he did all he could to try and help Newcastle avoid the drop by offering advice and guidance from the sidelines.