Saturday 20 January 2018

Newcastle willing to bide their time over Rafael Benitez

Newcastle will not pressurise manager Rafael Benitez as they await an answer over his future
Newcastle will not pressurise manager Rafael Benitez as they await an answer over his future

Newcastle are playing a waiting game as they grow increasingly optimistic that they will get the answer they want from Rafael Benitez over his future.

The 56-year-old Spaniard, who held face-to-face talks with owner Mike Ashley on Sunday evening, has continued the dialogue he opened with managing director Lee Charnley last week, and all the noises coming out of Tyneside in recent days have been positive.

However, Press Association Sport understands that the club is prepared to bide its time as Benitez considers both the proposal currently on the table and the opportunities which may arise elsewhere this summer.

That said, the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss has been hugely affected by the warm welcome he has enjoyed in the city despite failing to keep the Magpies in the Barclays Premier League, the mission he was handed with just 10 games of the season remaining.

There is a general acceptance that his arrival simply came too late to fend off relegation, although a six-game unbeaten run, culminating in a remarkable 5-1 rout against high-flying Tottenham, has served to strengthen the belief among the Toon Army that he is the man to lead the club back to the promised land.

Benitez's name was chanted almost incessantly during the final-day fixture as the supporters left Ashley, making a rare appearance at St James', and Charnley in little doubt as to their collective view on the matter.

It is understood the club is prepared to significantly alter its controversial model - a process which began in March when the new man was appointed as manager rather than head coach - in order to persuade him not to activate the release clause in his three-year contract.

Just what that could mean for chief scout Graham Carr remains to be seen amid speculation that his time as Newcastle's talent-spotter is drawing to a close.

However, Charnley will not pressurise Benitez as he awaits a definitive response, knowing the spotlight is on him after his appointment of John Carver as interim head coach and then Steve McClaren as Alan Pardew's permanent replacement, both of whom proved less than successful.

The Magpies found themselves in a similar position in the wake of relegation seven years ago when Alan Shearer, who had taken charge for the final eight games of the campaign, held talks with Ashley over a permanent position.

On that occasion, the owner eventually pulled the plug and put the club up for sale as a reluctant Chris Hughton was handed the reins, initially on a caretaker basis.

Hughton, of course, took the club back into the top flight at the first attempt, but was replaced by Pardew in the following December.

Press Association

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