Rafael Benitez not scared of relegation ahead of Newcastle bow
Rafael Benitez insists he is not "scared" of relegation as he attempts to drag new club Newcastle to safety.
The Magpies will head for Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester on Monday evening in deep trouble and knowing their plight could get worse before it gets better with just 10 games of the season remaining.
However, 55-year-old former Real Madrid boss does not fear the challenge ahead of him after replacing Steve McClaren at the St James' Park helm.
Benitez said: "'Scared' is not the word. I know that it is a difficult situation, but believe me, I've done the maths. It is positive. After watching some games, the team is good, so why not? We can do it.
"After that, the future is brilliant because you have the power, the fans, the stadium and very positive things.
"You have the squad. You have to adapt a little bit, but there is great potential, so it is very important to concentrate on these 10 games."
Benitez, who, like McClaren, will have a seat on the club's football board, will also have the title 'manager', something not enjoyed by his most recent predecessor nor the man he replaced, Alan Pardew.
The abandonment of the controversial head coach model is perhaps significant, or at least will be if the Spaniard manages to keep the club up and then embarks upon a summer recruitment programme.
However, in the meantime, that is not even a consideration for him. He said: "You have to help me. We need to concentrate on these 10 games. If everything is fine, as I expect, and we are in the Premier League, then we can talk about what my position is and the final decisions, whether I am involved in the signings.
"I will be part of the board, as was Steve, I will be there and in contact with [managing director] Lee [Charnley] every day.
"I don't see a big issue with this as they will try to bring the best players for me, they will be the best players for the club."
Benitez's arrival at Newcastle has taken some of the glare away from Leicester, who can take another stride towards the title with a victory.
Ahead of the game, winger Jeff Schlupp insists boss Claudio Ranieri has managed to keep the table toppers grounded.
Ranieri has repeatedly refused to talk about the Foxes' chances of winning the league and Schlupp believes the Italian's influence has been key.
He said: "It just humbles everyone and keeps everyone grounded. We definitely don't want to get carried away and the way the manager has been with us has really just kept us there, kept us going and he always makes sure we keep working, working and not slacking at anything. I think that's important."
One of Ranieri's methods for keeping his players alert in training was to ring an imaginary bell - 'dilly ding dilly dong' - and Schlupp believes it has been useful.
He said: "That's one of the manager's favourite phrases! It just means to keep alert really and that's what we've been doing.
"He just uses it when people are a bit low or getting comfortable with what they're doing, it's almost like a wake-up shout, so you can imagine him using that quite a lot."
Schlupp has just returned after three months out with a hamstring injury, but helped the Foxes to a 1-0 win at Watford last week and said Ranieri has the squad's complete faith.
He told Foxes Player: "He's called the Tinkerman but he just keeps working. We've got to trust our manager and trust his decisions.
"That's what he gets paid for, that's his job so we leave that to him. That's his decision so we just do what he wants and be ready if we're called upon."