Rafa Benitez offers revealing insight into his mindset ahead of Mike Ashley meeting at Newcastle

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez.
Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez.
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Rafa Benitez says he’s “positive” about the future at Newcastle United after speaking to Mike Ashley.

Benitez spoke to club owner Ashley this week after his team secured promotion to the Premier League.

The conversation followed a raid on the club by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs officers looking into a suspected £5million fraud.

Managing director Lee Charnley was arrested and later released without charge.

Benitez and Ashley will sit down for face-to-face talks at the end of the season.

United manager Benitez, under contract for another two years, was coy about his future after Monday night’s 4-1 win over Preston North End at St James’s Park.

Asked if he would be at the club next season, he said: “You never know – that’s football.”

Benitez’s future at Newcastle – who take on Cardiff City tonight – hinges on the outcome of a meeting with Ashley.

The pair will discuss Benitez’s summer transfer plans.

Asked about his future, Benitez said: “I have been clear. I have been talking with Mike, and we have decided we will talk next week or in 10 days or whatever.

“It depends on the schedule, but we have already been working on football.

“I have been talking with Lee and I said ‘Lee, we have to progress with pre-season’, and I said I needed to give him some football information.

“I was talking about injuries, because we have players we have to sort out now, sooner rather than later, and my future is my conversations with Mike.

“Everybody is expecting ‘how much money?’. All these questions you have depend on the conversation. We will see where we are.

“At the moment, I am quite positive. The conversation was quite positive. He was congratulating me and the staff and everyone, and I can say nothing else.

Ashley’s previous meeting with Benitez came at the end of last season, when the 57-year-old was persuaded to stay on in the wake of the club’s relegation.

“It’s very simple,” added Benitez. “He’s the owner, so then it depends on him what we will do.

“He needs to know my ideas and I need to know what he is thinking and we have to talk about everything.

“I am a professional. He’s a businessman, and he knows his business, so it’s simple.”

Meanwhile, second-placed Newcastle could narrow the gap on league leaders Brighton and Hove Albion to one point with a win over Cardiff at the Cardiff City Stadium.