WHEN the transfer window closed at 11pm on August 31, the prevailing mood at Newcastle United was portrayed as one of dejection and anger. Rafael Benitez was frustrated at his employers’ failure to land a single player on deadline day; a majority of the club’s supporters were furious at what they perceived to be yet more broken promises from Mike Ashley.

Newcastle’s players, however, viewed things rather differently. Yes, they had been hoping for some additional competition and a sign of the Magpies’ ongoing ambition, but having just won promotion four months earlier, they were also understandably affronted at the suggestion they were incapable of achieving anything without outside assistance.

Hadn’t they just overcome the disappointment of relegation to claim the Championship title? Weren’t they the best team in the whole of the Football League last season? Didn’t they deserve a chance to show what they could do in the top-flight?

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Amid the fall-out from the transfer window, Newcastle’s title winners refused to buy in to the notion that a failure to recruit at the end of August would inevitably mean a season of struggle. They retain faith in their abilities, and that faith looked justified on Sunday as they moved into the top half of the table courtesy of a 1-0 win over Swansea City.

“People haven’t really been talking about the players that were here last season, but that is normal when the window is open,” said Ayoze Perez, who was a key part of last term’s title triumph, and who has started all four league games this season.

“There are always a lot of rumours about what is or isn’t going to happen, and you have to deal with that. There was talk about what players might come in, but we know the team we have and we know how strong we can be.

“We still have to do a lot of work, and we can improve a lot, but we know how good we are. This dressing room has a lot of ambition, and we all have the desire to win games. That is going to be important right the way through the season.”

As well as being part of last season’s title triumph, Perez was also a member of the squad that was relegated in the previous campaign, and the pain of that experience continues to be a powerful motivating force.

Three members of the side that started at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday were also  involved in the relegation campaign – Rob Elliot and Jamaal Lascelles, as well as Perez – while the likes of Chancel Mbemba, Paul Dummett, Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Colback and Aleksandar Mitrovic remain part of the squad.

Perez freely admits he has a point to prove, and his early-season performances suggest he has developed a more rounded attacking game since he was last involved in the top-flight.

“We have players here who went through relegation, and we want to put that right and show what we can do in the Premier League,” he said. “We had to go into the Championship and had a tough year.

“Nobody feels good when you get relegated, but we worked very hard to get back into this league. Now we are here, we want to show everyone that we deserve to be here. We have to keep that mentality because it is going to be a long, tough season. We have to keep going in the same way we have been in the last two games.”

Having beaten West Ham prior to the international break, Newcastle made it two victories in a row as Lascelles’ second-half header broke the deadlock at the Liberty Stadium.

The win was achieved despite the absence of Rafael Benitez, but it is hoped the Spaniard will be back in the dug-out when Stoke City visit St James’ Park on Saturday.

Benitez remains in pain following an operation to address an infection following hernia surgery, but while he was not in Swansea in person last weekend, he still had a considerable influence on events.

“Even though we did not have our manager with us, we tried to make it as normal as we could,” said Perez. “He wasn’t able to be (there), but even if he had been, it would still have been tough. We knew what we had to do, and we did it well.

“We had a little conversation before the match, where he was saying some key things. Then after that, the rest of the staff did great work. They made sure that we controlled everything.”

Last season, Newcastle nurtured a winning mentality throughout the campaign as they clinched the Championship title. It is obviously much more difficult to win matches in the top-flight, but the momentum carried over from promotion remains an important asset.

“We have two wins a row, but the most important thing is that we are still working on what we have to do,” said Perez. “We know the mentality we have to have, and that is important. The results are going to give us some confidence, and now we are playing at home in front of our fans, which is always great. We will see what happens then.”