Rafa Benitez issues plea to Newcastle fans after fresh talks with Mike Ashley

Rafa Benitez has pleaded with Newcastle United fans to put their transfer frustrations to one side '“ and stay behind his team.

Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 5:00 am
Rafa Benitez

Benitez’s side take on Burnley at St James’s Park tonight looking for their first home win in more than three months.

Mikel Merino’s late winner against Crystal Palace on October 21 lifted the club up to sixth place in the Premier League.

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However, Newcastle have tumbled down the table since then – and the club is now seemingly set for a relegation battle.

Benitez has only seen one player – winger Kenedy – arrived so far in this month’s transfer window, and fans fear that there will be no more signings before tonight’s 11pm deadline.

United’s manager, however, has pleaded for unity ahead of the Burnley match.

“If everyone understands, all the people around, the same message – ‘stick together’,” said Benitez. “You can criticise the team selection or tactics or shape. But, in the end, the group of players will be this group and the passionate fans will be the same and they want to see the team winning.

“I’m the manager, and my priority is to concentrate on the football issues. I want to concentrate on the game.

“If we bring more players in, we’re going to be stronger. If we can’t do that, I have to be sure that we go into every game believing we can win. We’ll try to do that (against Burnley).”

Benitez, still hopeful that the club can sign a striker, spoke to owner Mike Ashley yesterday.

“We were talking about different options, and that’s it,” said Benitez, who wouldn’t discuss the decision of Daniel Sturridge to choose to join West Bromwich Albion on loan ahead of Newcastle on Monday.

Benitez also refused to discuss United’s failed bid for Feyenoord’s Nicolai Jorgensen.

Asked if he was more positive following his conversation with Ashley, Benitez added: “Similar (to before). We have to do something before the end, and then that’s it.

“Obviously, everybody would like to see players early, but they’re not here, so we’ll try to do something in one day.”

Benitez, up to last month, hadn’t regularly spoken with Ashley.

Asked about his working relationship with the billionaire, Benitez said: “It’s fine. We have to talk.

“It’s the way they like to do things.”

Benitez hopes his team can lift the club’s fans early in the game against Burnley. “If we start with a high tempo, then maybe we can lift the fans,” said Benitez.

Benitez insists that he understands the mood of supporters. “I understand everything, because I have been here for a while,” said the 57-year-old.

“But, at the same tine, I know my responsibilities. That’s to be sure the team’s in the best condition to approach any game.”