Rafael Benitez has admitted that he is not surprised that his Newcastle United side find themselves in the bottom three of the Premier League at this early stage of the season, because they were handed such a difficult start to the campaign.
The luck of the fixture list paired Newcastle with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City in their first four Premier League matches, and unsurprisingly they lost to all three.
Their only point on the board came from a goalless draw at Cardiff, where Kenedy's late penalty miss prevented the Magpies from getting their first win of the campaign.
Benitez is refusing to panic, insisting that he had anticipated a slow start for his team.
"Being in the bottom three is something you might expect when you look at our fixtures," the Spaniard said, quoted by the Mirror. "The reality is that they knew already the fixtures were very difficult and it could be something like that.
"The players know that doing things in the way they did last year, we can change things and be stronger and start getting points."
Despite being relegation candidates for much of last season, Newcastle only dropped into the relegation zone once and four consecutive wins in the latter stages of the season allowed them to pull away from the drop and finish 10th.
“At the moment, we have to understand this is the situation. Mentally we can be ready to manage a situation like this one. Last year we were close to the bottom but I think [only] once we were there [in the bottom three].
"Now, it’s like that and could be like that. Some of the other teams are drawing and winning. Still we have difficult games to play. We have to manage this situation and be strong mentally and carry on doing the things we did well last year. That will be the key to winning games this year."
It doesn't get any easier for Newcastle as they host Arsenal on Saturday.