Newcastle are up as champions – and things are looking up

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley
Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley

Is this really happening?

First promotion. Then the Championship title.

And Sunday’s triumph has been followed by the news that Rafa Benitez is staying at Newcastle United to take charge of the club in the Premier League.

What. A. Week.

There was alarm on Tyneside late last month when Benitez refused to confirm whether he’d be at St James’s Park next season.

“We’ll see,” said Benitez.

Benitez wanted assurances from Mike Ashley, the club’s owner.

And he got them on Tuesday night in a meeting with Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley.

Benitez, United’s manager, didn’t ask for a set figure to spend this summer.

He knew better than that.

Instead, he talked Ashley through his ideas on how the squad could be strengthened for the top flight.

Benitez has bought well during his long managerial career.

He also believes in selling at the right time.

Ashley, buoyed by United’s Championship-winning season, quickly agree a way forward with the Spaniard, who was promised “every penny the club generates through promotion”.

That’s a remarkable pledge.

Benitez, on that basis, could have the best part of £100million to spend this summer.

That’s a huge sum, though it will only go so far in the Premier League’s inflated transfer market.

But it’s a start. And a good one.

Benitez wants to build for the future.

There are still some unanswered questions, namely what role, if any, chief scout Graham Carr will have this summer.

But the key thing is that the club is up.

And things are looking up under Benitez.