Rafael Benitez hits back at criticism of Newcastle’s approach to Manchester City game

Rafael Benitez has insisted he would do the same again after brushing off criticism of Newcastle's safety-first approach against Manchester City.

The Spaniard was slammed by television pundits for his defensive tactics in Wednesday night's 1-0 defeat by the Premier League leaders, with former Manchester United defender Gary Neville particularly scathing of the ex-Liverpool manager's bus-parking exercise.

But asked if it would stop him doing it again, he replied: "No. I will do what I have to do to win for my team, that's it.

"The last games that we saw – Bournemouth, Tottenham, Huddersfield and Swansea – against Manchester City, Huddersfield, they lost 2-1 and they had chances and they were deep, defending and counter-attack; and the others passing, passing – [conceded] four, four, four. That's it.

"We did what we had to do to stay in the game and then nearly got a draw. But I will not waste too much time on that because for me, it doesn't change anything."

Benitez, who sends his side into battle with Brighton on Saturday, was philosophical when asked about the criticism from ex-players like Neville and Jamie Carragher.

He said: "They have to say something because they need the audience, and then you have to understand they are doing a job that is totally different. They don't take any responsibility and they can make mistakes and the day after, it doesn't matter.

"You are a manager, you have a group of players, you have fans, the city, responsibility and then you make the decisions you have to make to win games and that's it."

The debate over the Magpies' answer to City's free-scoring antics served to highlight the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and the fact that Financial Fair Play rules have done little to address the disparity.

Benitez said: "I think Financial Fair Play was good at the beginning, but the clubs find a way to bend the rules. Now you can see that with the money everyone is spending, it's very difficult to compete.

"You can see on the pitch the difference between players and teams."

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