Newcastle boss Benitez supports players' decision to cancel Christmas party

Newcastle boss Benitez supports players' decision to cancel Christmas party
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(Reuters) - Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has backed his players' decision to cancel their annual Christmas party in an effort to focus on reviving their season.

Benitez is undergoing one of the worst spells of his managerial career as Newcastle have slipped to 16th in the table, one point above the relegation zone after losing seven and drawing one of their last eight league games.

"They want to give a very clear message that they care and they want to do things right so they have decided to cancel their Christmas party," the former Liverpool boss told reporters.

"The players have taken responsibility and decided it's important to concentrate on football.

"... I think it's the right thing. This group of players are working so hard – they are giving everything – that I couldn't say: 'You don't deserve to do this or that.' But I think their decision is very positive."

Benitez said he met with Newcastle's managing director Lee Charnley to outline transfer plans for January and he is keen to recruit the right players quickly and re-invigorate his side.

"We have to progress and it's so obvious we have to improve things. I had a conversation with Lee about the players we maybe want to bring in and others who can go out. It was just talking about ideas," Benitez said.

"We'll see if we can progress this discussion in a few days. We have to move forward quickly. We have a difficult situation now but we know it could be worse."

Newcastle face seventh-placed Arsenal away in the league later on Saturday.

(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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