Monday Aug 07, 2017. 20:30
Christian Atsu has explained that Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez’s advice has played a major role in the fine form he has shown for the Magpies.
The Black Stars attacker scored in Newcastle’s final preseason game ahead of the 2016/17 campaign, as they defeated Hellas Verona 2-0 on Sunday.
Atsu was also on target last weekend in a 3-1 win over Wolfsburg and says his fine form can be credited to the influence of Benitez.
“I always want to do something to help the team move forward. I try to work hard and I want to be better than last season,” he told Newcastle’s official website.
“We know what is ahead of us – its bigger than what we passed through last season – and we just need to keep working hard and be better players, each and every day.
“I think I’m more focussed, and I’m also listening to Rafa Benítez. His advice has been very important to me, and my teammates have also been very supportive too. We’re all working together.
“With him, I think I’m improving. I just need to keep working hard and keep trying to help the team each and every game. Now there is big competition in the team, and you can’t underrate any player. I just need to keep working hard and try to do something for the team.”
Atsu added, “We are working hard and we are becoming a better team. We are understanding each other on the field and we are also a very strong team to beat.
“They [Hellas] were a very good team. Italian clubs are very difficult to beat, so we’re very happy that we created a lot of chances and also won the game.
“We were compact, we understand each other and we broke their defence up and managed to score two goals. We created a lot of chances and kept a clean sheet, so we’re happy with that.
“To win a game, we have to create those chances – if we don’t create them, we won’t win. That’s a positive thing for the whole team, so now we have to keep working and build on that.”
Atsu will hope to feature strongly for United when they open their Premier League campaign with a clash at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.