Newcastle United need another miracle to avoid relegation from the Premier League this season, according to manager Rafael Benitez.
The Magpies are five points off the bottom three after 17 matches but have only won four times in the top flight this season and just once in their last five games.
Their performance in the 0-0 draw with struggling Fulham last weekend also came in for criticism, after which Benitez called for perspective given the significant transfer spending of their opponents.
0.60 - The Premier League meeting between Newcastle United & Fulham yesterday saw a total xG figure of just 0.60; the match with the lowest quality goalscoring chances within the top 5 European leagues so far in 2018-19. Snore. pic.twitter.com/VD97zyJ3uk— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 23, 2018
And Benitez, who takes his side to face former club Liverpool on Boxing Day, claims it will be very tough to survive this season as long as Newcastle's rivals continue to invest heavily in their squads.
"We have to be realistic and understand that we will be in the bottom half during the whole season," he said. "For me, it is almost clear and if we can be better than three teams, it will be another miracle.
"It was a miracle last year. People were thinking, 'Oh, you finished 10th', but with a couple fewer wins, we could have been in the bottom five, so it was a miracle.
"If we do the same this year with teams spending even more money than last year, it will be a miracle."
With speculation over a takeover of the club continuing, Benitez is unsure if he will be given money for the January transfer window and insists there is "no chance" they will win matches easily against those who have spent well.
"I know what is coming now and I know where we are," he said. "You can see the team: the team is trying a lot of things, but still it's not enough sometimes to get the points, and it will be like that.
"If we are under pressure and we feel this pressure, we will not be better, we can make more mistakes.
"I'm trying to tell everyone, realise where we are, realise what we have to do and if we do well, fine, we can finish 10th or whatever.
"But if we think we have to beat these teams which have spent £100million, every one of them, during the summer, if we think we can beat them easily every game, no chance. We are wrong, 100 per cent."