Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles will take a leaf from manager Rafael Benitez’s book as he contemplates a daunting start to 2019 against in-form Manchester United.
During his time on Tyneside, which has encompassed a failed survival fight, a Sky Bet Championship title charge and a top-ten Premier League finish, Benitez has remained calm amid the chaos around him.
He made it into our top ten Premier League managers of the season list.
He and his players will head into January sitting just three points above the drop zone and face a tricky run of fixtures which could see their advantage quickly evaporate, but Lascelles has insisted there will be no panic within the dressing room.
He said: “There have been positives in 2018. It is important not to get too low or too high. We have to try to stay level-headed.
“There is expectation here for the players but we have to step out on that pitch and perform. That’s our job.
“Any point we get will be well-earned. The team we have here has good team chemistry and we will do anything for this club.
“That shows in the games so we will keep trying next year.”
Newcastle will resume action on Wednesday evening against a United side revitalised under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and know they will have to be at their very best if they are to put the brakes on the visitors, who have scored 12 goals in the three games they have played under the Norwegian.
The Magpies led 2-0 at Old Trafford in October before the Red Devils launched a comeback which saw Alexis Sanchez snatch victory at the death to give then manager Jose Mourinho what proved to be a temporary stay of execution.
Fulham and Burnley both boosted their survival hopes with victories over the weekend and with several teams down at the foot of the table meeting over the holiday period, Benitez knows how quickly the picture could change.
He said: “Someone has to win some of these games, you know it will be tough. The target will be at the end of January if we are out of the bottom three, then that will be good news.”