RAFA BENITEZ insists history can repeat itself and Newcastle United can still turn this season into a success story despite hitting the second international break in the bottom three.

The Magpies’ frustrations grew further on Saturday night when they let slip a two-goal lead at Old Trafford when a fragile Manchester United turned up the quality in the second half to win 3-2.

That result might have given Jose Mourinho a lift, but it did nothing to help Newcastle’s situation at the wrong end of the Premier League table.

They are already three points adrift of safety, winless after nine games this season, including the disappointing Carabao Cup exit at Nottingham Forest of the Championship.

But having played four of the top six during that run, the next run of games represents an opportunity to give the season a much-needed lift starting with the visit of Chris Hughton’s Brighton on October 20.

“If you just analyse the situation now, you are in the bottom three, but Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Everton were in the bottom three after nine fixtures (last season) but none of them were relegated,” he said.

“Why? Because they were better and working harder and doing well and other teams were doing worse. For us, the main thing is to keep working hard and doing the right things even if you lose a game.

“We need to do the right things. But even if you are right, you can lose. The team is good and the team will do well if we have confidence. The squad is a little bit better. Some people say it’s not but we didn’t have Martin Dubravka, Kenedy. Who has to make the difference? Rondon, Muto, it’s a little bit better.”

There were plenty of positives to have been taken from the opening half at Old Trafford when Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto found the net early on. Despite their lowly position, Newcastle have not been brushed aside easily in the majority of their games so far.

Benitez said: “Some of the players were doing well at the end of last season but they are not doing so well.

“We will need some time to make sure they go back to that level. In the meantime we have played four of the top six. So was anyone expecting that now we’d be in the middle of the table? No. No-one. The fans, they know, they are not panicking.

“If you lose against four of the top sides and don’t beat Cardiff and Crystal Palace, who are a good team, then you have to be at the bottom of the table. Like we were last season in January.”

Regardless of whether the club’s owner Mike Ashley – who has clawed back some of his £144m loan to the club after a profitable year which saw them finish tenth in the Premier League – is keen to get back involved after watching the last three games, fans still regard him as the main culprit for the club’s poor start.

The supporters have demanded more money is spent and a better standard of player brought in to to help Benitez and that has contributed to the Spaniard not signing a new contract.

Former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer is of that opinion and he thinks Ashley’s offer to take all the players on holiday if they can avoid a third drop into the Championship during his ownership should be ignored.

Shearer, referring to the dinner Ashley took Benitez and his players to last week, told the Sun: “Mike Ashley offering Newcastle players a free holiday if they avoid relegation is an insult. If I was a player at that team dinner on Wednesday and he offered me that, I would have told him to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

“I would have said, ‘Instead of spending money on a holiday spend it on the football club and back the manager!’ As a player, that might give me hope and extra motivation that we’re all in the fight together.

“As for the dinner, how is that going to make you better as a player? If you are motivated by that, or by the owner being at matches, there is something wrong with you. I am also suspicious as to why the owner has been at the last three games when he hadn’t been at one for 16 months beforehand.

“Ashley supposedly said he does not want Rafa Benitez to leave and he will back him in January. But I don’t believe a word that comes out of Newcastle these days.”