Newcastle owner Mike Ashley makes his move to keep manager Rafael Benitez
Published 15/05/2016 | 22:31
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley wasted no time trying to convince Rafael Benitez to stay at St James' Park after his side's 5-1 Barclays Premier League win over Tottenham on Sunday.
Ashley watched the game from the directors' box for the first time this year and then held talks with the Spaniard after the final whistle, Press Association Sport understands.
The Magpies hierarchy will have been left in no doubt over their urgency to strike a new deal with Benitez, the manager they want to steer them through next season's Championship campaign.
Benitez's name was chanted throughout the game as his side produced one of their best performances of the season despite being reduced to 10 men midway through the second half.
And he admitted his rapturous reception would make it harder for him to decide to walk away as he continues to consider his options.
Benitez said: "I was expecting the fans to get behind the team and support me but it has been amazing. I was open to talk and now I am more open to talk.
"It is not easy to leave a club like this and I will talk and analyse and try to do the best for me and the best for Newcastle United. It has got to be the best for both."
Benitez had admitted during his post-match press conference that he had yet to speak to Ashley, but was expecting to discuss his future with chief executive Lee Charnley in the week ahead.
But Ashley was clearly on a mission to take the initiative, with a number of other big clubs already being linked with a move for the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss.
Benitez has clearly been impressed by the affection afforded him by Newcastle supporters despite his failure to save them from relegation.
He added: " We are really disappointed because we couldn't stay up, but really happy that we gave the fans something to enjoy today. Since I've been here in terms of effort and hard work you can say nothing (negative) about these players."
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino described his side's capitulation as his worst day in football management as they failed in their bid to finish above north London rivals Arsenal, which they have still not achieved since 1995.
Two goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and others from Aleksandar Mitrovic, Rolando Aarons and Daryl Janmaat - three coming after Mitrovic had been sent off for a raking challenge on Kyle Walker - sealed the Magpies' improbable win.
Pochettino said: "I think today we showed that this wasn't a team that had played well through the whole season, and I think this was my worst day as a manager in England or Spain.
"I feel very bad, because the worst thing is we showed we don't care about the position.
"We have shown in the last few weeks that what we need to improve for next season is our mental state. We can see the problem was that we are not ready to compete and we don't have enough quality to play with the ball.
"The big problem is that we have to try to identify and take decisions for the future. I was very disappointed and upset because the first 45 minutes of the match was a shame."
Such was the extent of Pochettino's plight he revealed he had been extended sympathy by Benitez, despite the final whistle bringing an end to the hosts' top-flight tenure.
Pochettino admitted: "It was strange - Newcastle are relegated but he felt sorry for me."
Tottenham's England striker Harry Kane called for positivity but accepted Tottenham were far below their best.
He wrote on Twitter: "Today wasn't nowhere near good enough. It shows we are still learning and still have a lot to improve on. But overall with have to see the bigger picture. We are in the Champions League. We have to stay positive and be proud! We have to come next season with ambition!"