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Rafa Benitez stands up to the board says Alan Shearer

“It is relegation form. The way Rafa set up and with the number of changes he made to the team I think he has one eye on the weekend against Brighton. That’s a game they cannot be beaten in. I think the fans realise what they have. They have a set of players who work hard, I don’t think you can question their commitment but they’re a Championship side playing in the Premier League and I think the fans understand that.

“Rafa has dropped enough hints at the beginning of the season and during season that is the case. He desperately needs bodies to come in and have additions to this squad and if he doesn’t, it’s a relegation battle. I think the fans understand that. They won’t be relegated on a performance like the Manchester City one. But they have to have a different mindset in the games against Brighton and Stoke, like they did against West Ham at the weekend. They went there and played a very attacking side. On Wednesday they were very negative until the last ten minutes, which is understandable when you consider what happens to teams who come out and play against Manchester City. I just think that he could have gone for it a little bit earlier.

“He went for players in the summer. He went for Javier Hernandez and Tammy Abraham but they were pulled so with ten days left of the window he had £5million and goes for Joselu because he desperately needs a body. That’s the situation Rafa Benitez is in now with this current ownership. We all know this is a very, very difficult club to manage with the current ownership. We witnessed it many times over the 10 years he’s been here.

“Rafa is the only guy who has come out and told it like it is. Other managers have been scared or didn’t want to to fear of losing their job. Another manager would have been under severe pressure – not just from the media but from the fans. They would have been going mad here but we’ve heard tonight, the last minute of the game the fans are singing his name.

“They know what he can bring to this football club and they’re hoping – just like me – that if or when the new owners come in that they back him because they have got a top manager here. He’s got a Championship team and he’s trying to guide them through the Premier League.”

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