Rafa Benitez has dropped one of his biggest hints yet that he could be set for an extended stay at St James’ Park, suggesting that his project at Newcastle United is only just getting started.
This story comes from reputable North-East reporter for the Independent Martin Hardy – a man that knows Benitez more than most after having access to the Spaniard when writing popular book ‘Rafa’s Way’ last year.
Back to the story at hand, and Hardy believes Benitez has ‘committed to Newcastle for next season’, feeling he is ‘just at the beginning of his project in the north-east’.
Here’s a snippet from his positive piece in the Independent, followed by some quotes from the man himself, Rafa Benitez:
‘Rafa Benitez has given the biggest indication yet that he will remain as the Newcastle United manager next season.
‘The 56-year-old Spaniard has revealed he believes he is just at the beginning of his project in the north-east, having led the club to the Championship last season and tenth place in the Premier League at present.
‘During the January transfer window, Newcastle officials were keen to extend Benitez’s existing £6m-a-year deal, which runs out in 2019.
‘The former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager instead put the talks on hold and sought to guarantee the club’s Premier League survival, something that is now all but mathematically guaranteed.
‘To that end, the landscape has changed dramatically. Benitez was allowed to make three signings in January, two of which have proved crucial. The goalkeeper Martin Dubravka’s loan deal from Sparta Prague will become permanent once the campaign finishes and Benitez admitted he will fight hard to sign Kenedy on a permanent deal in the summer after his successful loan move from Stamford Bridge.
‘All three recruits – Islam Slimani was the other – were chosen by Benitez, as were the six permanent signings made during the summer following promotion. The Spaniard, having asked for former chief scout Graham Carr to be moved on, now has full autonomy on incoming players.
‘He was frustrated by the speed of the club’s transfer activity last summer, following promotion, however the six arrivals cost around £45m. Now, with a young squad developing under him, and the likelihood of greater funds this summer, the talk has turned to next season.’
“The club is moving up at the minute,”
“What you have is all the potential; the fans, the stadium, the fans going to games away and at home, the city behind us.
“We have a very good group of players at the moment in terms of mentality and they decide to succeed. Everything is fine but we are at the beginning, that is very clear now. We have to keep a lot of things that we have done well for the next season.
“If you are at the beginning you still have plenty of room for improvement. If I decide to stay in the Championship it’s because I could see fans, city environment, everything, staff, everybody was really, really delighted to see things going forward.
“You could see everybody pushing and everybody helping you and everybody trying to do their best. I have been in a lot of teams, and in some of them, they have been winning, they thought, ‘Okay done’, and they were going clearly downhill.
“This club, if we do the right things, we have to go uphill. It can be faster but we have to do things in the right way.”
What do you reckon folks?
Hardly the words of a man who’s ready to leave his unfinished business to someone else this summer..