Benitez set to stay on at Newcastle despite club's relegation
Rafael Benitez is poised to agree terms to remain as Newcastle United manager, despite their relegation to the Championship, after he was given all the reassurances he wanted from owner Mike Ashley.
Benitez has even begun to discuss potential transfer targets following a further round of discussions with managing director Lee Charnley yesterday and a budget for recruitment is likely to be finalised in the next few days.
Benitez will want to make sure everything he has been promised is guaranteed in writing, but sources close to the discussions have indicated it has been overwhelmingly positive on both sides.
The speed with which a conclusion to the talks is approaching has surprised those involved, but Benitez's decision to stay on as manager could even be confirmed by the weekend. He returned to Merseyside last night to discuss matters with his family, but they are also in support of his decision to stay at a club where there is so much affection for him.
The only potential stumbling block is if another English club make a late attempt to turn his head, although Everton have still not made any contact with Benitez or his advisers and he is only focused on making sure everything is right for him on Tyneside.
Ashley has made it clear to the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid manager that he is desperate to keep him and has promised to make sure he has the resources to make sure the club achieve an instant return to the top flight.
The news will delight Newcastle supporters and credit must all be given to Ashley and Charnley for giving the 56-year-old what he wanted in order to persuade him to stay.
Significantly, Benitez has been given full control of recruitment, the first time this has happened since Ashley bought the club in 2007. That means chief scout Graham Carr will be leaving the club this summer, although Charnley is highly unlikely to leave.
One of the players who will almost certainly quit St James' Park is winger Andros Townsend, who has a £13 million release clause in his contract after relegation.
Elsewhere, Old Trafford is not expected to be full for the re-fixture against Bournemouth which takes place tonight after Sunday's 'bomb scare' debacle. United need to win by 19 goals to overhaul Manchester City in fourth and, with that unlikely and an FA Cup final on Saturday, they are expected to field a weakened team.