Rafa Benitez warns Mike Ashley he must be ‘sensible’ with January transfers

Wilfried Zaha (centre) clashes with Kenedy in a rare moment of excitement at Selhurst Park.
Wilfried Zaha (centre) clashes with Kenedy in a rare moment of excitement at Selhurst Park.
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Rafa Benitez is hoping Mike Ashley takes a “sensible” approach to January’s transfer window – after watching his team for the first time in more than a year.

Ashley was at Selhurst Park to see Saturday’s goalless draw against Crystal Palace.

Martin Dubravka and DeAndre Yedlin keep out Jordan Ayew.

Martin Dubravka and DeAndre Yedlin keep out Jordan Ayew.

Newcastle’s owner hadn’t seen a game since May last year, and United’s 2,900 fans chanted for Ashley to “get out of our club” during the Premier League game.

However, manager Benitez – who had to sell to buy in the summer transfer window – took his appearance at a game as a “positive”.

“I like to see the owner supporting the team,” said Benitez. “It’s not me, it’s the team. We have to be sure that everybody supports the team starting with the owner and everyone. If it’s like that, I’ve said before, we will be stronger.

“I have to take this as a positive. If he comes to see the team, he can see the players, what we have, and hopefully he can be more sensible, and he will be ready to do something if we need to do it.”

Newcastle’s need for reinforcements in January seems clear. They are still winless this season, with just a 0-0 draw against newly-promoted Cardiff City and Saturday’s stalemate at Palace to show for their efforts in the first month.

They sit third-bottom of the Premier League table, a position which could have been worse had Palace defender Mamadou Sakho not missed an open goal with a late header as United laboured to a fortunate point.

Asked about January’s transfer window, Benitez added: “At the moment, we have to wait until January. In the meantime we have to give everything every game.

“We have to be sure that the team works as hard as today. We will have more chances against these teams.

“The top six will be more difficult, obviously, but these kind of games, the first goal will maybe change everything. We have to have the belief we can do it. You can see a lot of positives.”

Benitez – who was told before the game that Ashley would be in attendance – sat down with the billionaire for talks in the summer.

However, Ashley wanted Benitez to sign a new deal before discussing a transfer budget, and the pair didn’t come to an agreement.

Asked if he would speak to Ashley at Selhurst Park, Benitez said: “If he’s around, no problem. I don’t know if I will have time as you’re asking me many questions.”

Meanwhile, Benitez condemned the United fan who threw a beer bottle at Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

“We had 3,000 fans and one made a mistake,” said Benitez.

Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Wan Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt, Kouyate (Meyer 63), Milivojevic, McArthur, Townsend, Ayew (Sorloth 71), Zaha. Subs Not Used: Ward, Schlupp, Guaita, Kelly, Puncheon. Booked: Tomkins.

Newcastle: Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu 73), Diame, Shelvey, Kenedy, Perez (Muto 81), Rondon (Joselu 46). Subs Not Used: Clark, Ki, Manquillo, Darlow. Booked: Yedlin.

Ref: Andre Marriner.