Rafa Benitez reveals what’s ‘obvious’ to him at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez
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Once bitten, twice shy.

Yet Rafa Benitez says he’s “confident” ahead of the January window.

Newcastle United’s manager didn’t get the players he wanted in the summer, so what, if anything, has changed?

Benitez stressed the need for investment in a phone conversation with owner Mike Ashley, who put the club, which is 18th in the Premier League after a run of eight defeats from nine games, up for sale in October.

Talks are ongoing with would-be buyer Amanda Staveley, whose PCP Capital Partners have already had a bid rejected. Any takeover, however, won’t be completed until after the window closes, meaning reluctant-spender Ashley must sanction January’s transfer business.

Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s game against West Ham United at the London Stadium, Benitez said he was “confident” that Ashley would back him.

We’ve seen the consequences of not doing business in the way we wanted to do business in August.

Rafa Benitez

Asked why he was so confident, Benitez said: “We’ve seen the consequences of not doing business in the way we wanted to do business in August.

“So it’s obvious when we talk about January how important it is for the city, for every fan, for everyone at the club to stay in the Premier League. We’ll try to do what we have to do.”

But is it obvious to Ashley? Benitez added: “I hope that Mike Ashley’s clever enough to understand. What I say is that it’s his team, his business. He wants the best for the team.”

Asked if Ashley – who has presided over two relegations during his decade as owner – understood the gravity of the situation, Benitez said: “We started so well that everyone expected us to be in the middle of the table or something like that.

“But the reality is that we’ve had a very bad run, and still, until last weekend, we were not in the relegation zone, so we were doing well.

“It’s difficult for the other teams to get points too. They’re winning some games, but they’re losing a lot of games, too. It’s not that you’re not winning and they’re winning everything. It’s not true. It’s all so close.

“We’re one game away from being nearly in the middle of the table.

“Is it a bad run? Yes. Is it a concern for me? Yes. But is it something I think we cannot change? No. We can change it, because we did it before and the team’s so close to winning or drawing games.

“It’s something we have to make sure we change in the future. January will help.”

Benitez, however, says that he still doesn’t know his transfer budget.

“We’ve been progressing and talking about names and the way to move forward,” said Benitez. “I think we’re going slowly, trying to do things, but I think we can have some good news in the next couple of weeks.”

Benitez, hopeful of securing Chelsea winger Kenedy on a half-season loan, is keen for the club to get its business done early in the window.

“You have to do business early and get players as soon as possible,” said Benitez.