RAFAEL BENITEZ has responded to growing criticism about Newcastle’s Premier League form by urging the whole of the city to stay united.

Benitez, speaking at the club’s Foundations 125 Years dinner, has seen the Magpies’ form stutter after a decent start to life back in the Premier League.

His team has been knocked for showing a lack of adventure in front of goal, particularly after losing 1-0 in both of their last two matches.

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Benitez has also been criticised for staying faithful to Spanish striker Joselu even though Aleksandar Mitrovic is available and completely out of favour.

Newcastle’s four forwards, including Ayoze Perez and Dwight Gayle, have scored just four times between them this season; had they found the net more it is a safe bet they would be higher than their 11th place position.

But Benitez, knowing this is still Newcastle’s first season back in the Premier League, thinks there are no major causes for concern so supporters should stay behind the team as he looks for his players to impress.

“I was pleased until last weekend,” said Benitez, in an on stage interview with Gabby Logan. “Now, not so much! I am sending the same message.

“Now with social media, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, all of these things you can’t control. People might know how hard the players work every single week.

“I think it is important for the city that we have to stick together. We want to stay in the Premier League and be stronger next year. The only way is to make sure we get the support of the fans home and away. If that is the case then I am sure we will do well.”

Newcastle are sitting on 14 points after 11 matches, five points above the relegation zone. It is still a positive enough start to life back in the top-flight, after a summer when Benitez had hoped to sign more players.

Overall he is enjoying life on Tyneside and is focused on maintaining the strong team spirit ahead of the trip to Manchester United on November 18.

Benitez added: "It's a great feeling to see everyone supporting the team (in Newcastle). Always, I send the same message, especially now we have lost two games in a row. We have to stick together. If we want to be stronger, we have to stick together. Hopefully we can win more games and they will be happier!

“In Liverpool everyone knows they have two teams, this is a city where everybody goes, everybody knows about football and this football club. Here everybody is happy if the team is doing well, they will love the manager if it is doing well, and I hope that is the same when we lose a couple of more games too.”

Benitez does not have too many options to play on the flanks so he is keeping a close eye on Christian Atsu’s fitness during the international break.

Atsu has been one of the team’s brighter and most creative players so far this season, but he had to be withdrawn against Bournemouth because he “felt something”, according to Benitez.

Nevertheless the £6.2m buy from Chelsea has gone on international duty and Ghana hope to be able to call on him for a World Cup qualifier with Egypt. The fact that the Black Stars have already missed out on qualification, though, lessens the need to take a risk.

Benitez will be wary, too. There are fears that the muscle problem could worsen so Newcastle are keen for him to only figure if there are no concerns.

The 25-year-old is being monitored carefully by Ghana medics and he sat out on a training session at the Cape Coast Stadium.

Now Ghana FA spokesman Ibrahim Sannie Daara said: “I am yet to be briefed on the medical report from his club yet. But what is important is that he made the trip down here.

"You all read in the UK papers that he club said he suffered an injury. But the fact that Atsu has shown up depicts the commitments and love Atsu has for the country."