Benitez eyes trophies in long-term Newcastle United project

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez smiles at St James's Park last night
Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez smiles at St James's Park last night
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Rafa Benitez says promotion would just be the start for Newcastle United – as he’s determined to bring a trophy to St James’s Park.

Benitez yesterday signed a revised three-year deal at the relegated Magpies.

I have won trophies. Now it is time for a new project, a new challenge. I can see the possibilities and the size of the club and the potential. Everything is massive and I want to be a part of it.

Rafa Benitez

The 56-year-old has been given full control of transfers by owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley.

Benitez’s first challenge is to get United out of the Championship.

But the Spaniard – who took charge for the final 10 games of last season but couldn’t keep the team in the Premier League – won’t be content with just taking the Tynesiders back into the top flight.

Benitez sees the job as a long-term “project” which will eventually deliver the club its first major trophy since 1969.

Asked about his aim, the former Real Madrid and Liverpool manager said: “It is a challenge, yes.

“I have won trophies. Now it is time for a new project, a new challenge.

“I can see the possibilities and the size of the club and the potential.

“Everything is massive and I want to be a part of it.

“I am here because I am convinced we can go up next season, stay there for a long time and even win trophies.”

Benitez – who started last season in charge at the Bernabeu – will take Newcastle to Burton Albion next season.

And he has put his reputation on the line in football’s most unforgiving division because he firmly believes Newcastle can win promotion at the first attempt.

“If I decide to stay it is because I believe we can be where we belong,” said Benitez.

“We cannot say ‘we are a massive club and we deserved to be in the Premier League’.

“We have to be professional, train well, prepare for games like they are a final.

“We have to work harder than everyone.”

Benitez – who had a clause in his contract allowing him to walk away from the job in the event of relegation – was keen to stay in England.

And he has had “big-money” offers since Newcastle’s fate was confirmed earlier this month.

Asked if he could have gone elsewhere, Benitez said: Some offers – big money – but I am happy here because I can see a project and a future, a big club, fantastic fans, a lot of support and my family.

“You put everything together and I’m really pleased to be here.”

Benitez met Ashley after the club ended the season with a 5-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur.

He went on to have detailed discussions with Charnley, who he says fully supported him after he took over from the sacked Steve McClaren.

And those talks – and the support he had had from the fans – persuaded him to stay at St James’s Park.

Asked about his meeting with Ashley, Benitez said: “You know, I met him that day, but after that I was still dealing with Lee and my relationship with him is very good.

“Every time I talk about something with him he is trying to help.

“We have been talking about players and he was already in movement. That is why I’m happy because we have a good relationship to build something important.”