Ghana international Christian Atsu says he is happy and enjoying his football again thanks to the believe of his boss Rafael Bernitez.
The Magpies ran out 2-0 winners at St. James’ Park in their final pre-season outing, with Ayoze Perez and Atsu scoring the decisive goals in the first half.
And winger Atsu – who also scored in last Wednesday’s 3-1 win at Wolfsburg – says Benítez is making him a better player, as evidenced by his fine pre-season form.
“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. We know what is ahead of us – it’s bigger than what we passed through last season – and we just need to keep working hard and be better players, each and every day,” he told nufc.co.uk.
“I think I’m more focused, 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.”
United were never really threatened by the Serie A side, and emerged with what was a comfortable victory in front of almost 24,000.
“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,” said Atsu.
“They 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.”
The Premier League campaign begins in a week’s time, with Tottenham Hotspur the visitors to Tyneside.
And Atsu reckons that United are well prepared for their return to the top flight, and says he has “belief” in the squad that Newcastle will go into the campaign with.
“We are prepared. For me, any minute that I play I’ll give my best for the team and do my job on the field. I believe the team is well prepared for the season ahead, no matter what happens,” said the 25-year-old.
“The Premier League is coming, we’re happy to be there and we have to keep working hard and improve because the Premier League is very difficult, with more quality.
“But I believe in the players that we have and our gameplan. We just need to stick to it, and keep fighting until the end.”
Source: Newcastle United