Rafael Benitez has warned Newcastle new boy Miguel Almiron that life in the Premier League will get considerably more difficult as the season draws to a close.
The 25-year-old January signing from MLS side Atlanta United made his first start for the Magpies in Saturday’s 2-0 home victory over bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield, whose task was made all the more difficult by the loss of skipper Tommy Smith to a 20th-minute red card for a poor challenge on the Paraguay international.
Almiron might have already made his mark by that point with an audacious lofted shot which came back off a post, and he received rapturous applause as he was replaced by Christian Atsu with nine minutes remaining.
However, manager Benitez said: “It’s important for us to realise that today, we had to win; for him, the first game, he had to do well, but the main thing was the understanding with the team-mates around him, his effort, his commitment.
“Everything we have seen is what we were expecting from him. Obviously the defenders from the other teams will know him a little bit better now and it will be more difficult for him.
“But still, he is someone who is working really hard, so I think he can do well.
“Now he has to learn in the Premier League to understand what the physicality of the game means here, but I think he has the right mentality.”
Newcastle had to remain patient as the Terriers defended stubbornly after Smith’s premature exit, but they succumbed to Salomon Rondon within a minute of the restart and then again to Ayoze Perez six minutes later.
Benitez’s men also hit the woodwork on four occasions on their way to a third successive home win, which lifted them four points clear of the drop zone with Burnley due on Tyneside on Tuesday evening.
“The main thing was to get three points – we did it and now it’s just carry on,” Benitez said. “Always I say the next game is the most important – it’s like a final for us.
“Burnley are doing quite well, so we have to play with the same intensity as today and try to get three points in the next one and carry on.”
It proved a bruising afternoon for Huddersfield, who have now lost 13 of the last 14 league games and have not won since November 25.
Manager Jan Siewert said: “You know, we haven’t won since November and although my face doesn’t show it today because I am disappointed with the result, I am still positive.
“If you had been in our dressing room after the game, we still want to fight for everything which is possible.
“We started quite well because we created chances and in the first 15 minutes, we were really in the game.
“But definitely to be honest, there were some situations that we should have solved better and additionally, the red card didn’t make it easy for us.”