Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez claims his side need a “miracle” to avoid being dragged into a Premier League relegation battle.

The Magpies secured a top-half finish during their first season back among English football’s elite in 2017-18.

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The current campaign is proving to be a bit trickier, though, with more transfer frustration leaving Benitez to make the best of what he has.

He is concerned that may not be enough, with a side currently perched five points above the drop zone already looking anxiously over their shoulder.

Benitez said: “We have to be realistic and understand that we will be in the bottom half during the whole season.

“For me, it is almost clear and if we can be better than three teams, it will be another miracle.

“It was a miracle last year. People were thinking, ‘Oh, you finished 10th…’, but with a couple fewer wins, we could have been in the bottom five, so it was a miracle.

“If we do the same this year with teams spending even more money than last year, it will be a miracle.”