HE might have only been on Tyneside less than a year, but Fabian Schar has realised exactly why Newcastle United’s supporters are so desperate for Rafa Benitez to stay.

Schar must have wondered what he had taken on when life at St James’ Park started with a run in the Premier League without a win that went on until November.

It was the sort of opening to a campaign that had everyone predicting relegation to the Championship, citing a lack of investment in the squad over the summer and a lack of quality as the main factors.

However, Newcastle have gone on to prove people wrong by managing to preserve top-flight status for a further year and Schar has been a big part of that.

The Swiss defender thinks Benitez has shown his worth to Newcastle once again, by forming a team capable of climbing up the Premier League under his watch.

The biggest issue now is whether Benitez will stay beyond his current contract that is due to expire at the end of June, and Schar feels strongly about the situation.

“We are all happy how things are now in this season,” said Schar. “After the first ten games nobody was expecting that we would be safe with 41 points with three games left.

“We have improved a lot this year, we have a strong squad, and we are playing well together, sticking all together, and that is the key.

“The master (Benitez) is giving us always the right speeches ahead of the games, the right tactics, so it’s important also for us. We are one group, with all the staff, the team and the fans. That’s the reason (we have done well).”

Eyebrows were raised when Newcastle paid Deportivo la Coruna just £3m for Schar, but he has been a bargain – even scoring three goals.

He is expected to keep his place at Brighton this afternoon despite suffering a glute injury against Southampton. The Seagulls are looking for the result that will keep them in the Premier League for a further year themselves. Newcastle, while safe, don’t want to settle for that either.

Schar said: “You want to win each game, you want to get points and to have the winning feeling after every game. We will keep going like this and doing everything to get some more points during the last three games. We will only finish when the season is over, and until then there is some work to do.

“With 41 points we know we are OK, and we are up to 13th, so it’s a great feeling to get the last two wins in a row. It’s nice to have games like the one against Southampton to see where we are comfortably now in the table. It was amazing to see Ayoze Perez score three goals.

“His performance, not only because of his goals, was fantastic. For us it was very important that he scored, and it was his first hat-trick for Newcastle, so I am happy for him, but also happy that he helped us with his goals and that we got the three points.”

Newcastle’s victory over Southampton last weekend was the fifth win from their last six dates at home, during a season when they have lost nine games at St James’. The turnaround has been massive for Benitez’s team and Schar knows how important winning in front of the club’s fans has been to transforming the campaign.

“Of course, the home form is key,” said the 27-year-old. “It is always special to play at St James’ Park, where we have fantastic support all the time, so it’s a big plus for us to have such a great atmosphere for us to play in front of and win for them.

“But even when we play away, for example like against Leicester, the fans were amazing. The fans are always behind us in every game.

“They help us a lot, we need them and they sing for us all the time. The fans, home and away, definitely help us to perform.”