RAFAEL BENITEZ claims Newcastle United do not receive the credit they deserve given their position at the top of the Championship table.

The Magpies host Burton Albion tonight looking to take another major step towards the top-flight, having moved ten points clear of promotion rivals Huddersfield Town when they beat Wigan Athletic at the weekend.

Newcastle have not been out of the top two since the start of October, but many commentators and pundits seem to regard their achievements as merely par for the course given the size of the club and the level of their summer expenditure.

United boast the biggest wage bill in the second tier by a considerable distance, but Benitez claims that does not mean promotion should be regarded as a given. If, as looks increasingly likely, they finish the season with a place in the Premier League, the Spaniard feels their success should not be downplayed.

“I don’t know if we have received the credit we deserve,” said Benitez, whose side have lost just one of their last 14 matches. “Because I have been on both sides of the fence - teams with money, teams with no money - I used to get upset at things like this. Now, what we must do is give everything.

“People say, ‘Oh, but you have money’ - that does not matter. You just have to go out and win. We are pleased to win games, especially when we score goals and don’t concede.

“Here, to achieve what we are trying to achieve is quite complicated. Every year, you see the teams that are relegated and not all of them do well. We still have to do our job.

“We have to keep going, and then afterwards if people say it is because we have more money, it will still be a great achievement.  Everyone will have his opinion.

“Not just me, but every single Newcastle fan would be happy to be in this position with seven games to go if we had been offered it at the start of the season. We are in a fantastic position, so we just have to concentrate and try to make the most of it.”

Newcastle had something of a wobble when they lost at home to Fulham last month, but a goalless draw at Birmingham steadied the ship and last weekend’s 2-1 win over Wigan was a return to business as usual.

With the Magpies’ next two games pitting them against play-off hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds, tonight’s outing is an ideal opportunity to further strengthen their position ahead of what could well prove their two toughest tests of the remainder of the season.

Benitez will be stressing to his players they cannot afford to take anything for granted, and the Spaniard has been forced to adopt the same mantra this term.

He might be a Champions League winner who has managed at some of the biggest clubs in Europe, but even he has been able to learn some new lessons from life in the Championship.

“For sure, I am a better coach now than I was at the start of the season,” said Benitez. “I am learning every day. One thing that improves you as a manager is different experiences.  If you are learning, trying to adapt and modify things, then it improves you.

“The best manager isn’t always the one who has won the most trophies. You can have a good team, win trophies and be an awful manager, but sometimes you have a manager at another level, in the middle of the table in League Two for instance, and although he cannot win trophies, he is doing a great job.

“You have to ask why someone is the best manager. There may be five managers better than him who do not have the tools to win trophies.

“I have learned a lot about tactics, PR, man management, everything. Everything is different. Tactics obviously have to be different. I have not had situation like this for years with so many games.

“We are up against direct teams, passing teams, three at the back, five at the back. Eight at the back! I have had to adapt to different tactics.  Every week, twice a week, you have to adapt and change.

“And you do not have a lot of time to prepare the way you really want. Ideally, you want one week but that is impossible now. I have not really changed the way I work, it is similar, but the difference is it is more squeezed with so many games.”

Newcastle have no new injury problems ahead of this evening’s game, but Ciaran Clark and DeAndre Yedlin remain unavailable.

Benitez could name the same side that kicked off the win over Wigan, although Isaac Hayden, Christian Atsu and Ayoze Perez are all in contention for a start, having come off the bench at the weekend.

Newcastle (probable, 4-2-3-1): Darlow; Anita, Hanley, Lascelles, Dummett; Colback, Shelvey; Ritchie, Perez, Gouffran; Gayle.

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