Newcastle succumbed to a reasonable 2-0 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday that will have given Rafa Benitez much food for thought ahead of the visit of Southampton this weekend.
Expertly taken goals from joint-Premier League top scorer Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane saw a well-drilled Magpies side fall to a first defeat in four matches and lose for the only the second time in 2018 thus far.
It leaves Newcastle in 16th on 29 points from 29 matches and just two points above the relegation zone heading into the crucial encounter with Southampton – who sit one place and a solitary point below United in what is being billed as a must-win game for both teams.
Benitez knows his side must start to pick up points at St James’ Park if Newcastle are to pull away from danger having recorded just four victories on Tyneside all season, starting by pushing an under-fire Mauricio Pellegrino closer to the sack at St Mary’s.
The Saints manager served as a player and coach under Benitez at Liverpool, but the United boss won’t allow sentiment to cloud his pursuit of all three points on Saturday and the first step towards survival for Newcastle.