Rafa Benitez reveals details of a phone conversation with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley

Rafa Benitez has spoken to Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley '“ in an attempt to plot a way forward.
Mike AshleyMike Ashley
Mike Ashley

Benitez desperately needs to strengthen his squad in next month’s transfer window.

Newcastle are 18th in the Premier League after losing eight of their last nine games.

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And Benitez reiterated the need for new signings ahead of this afternoon’s game against West Ham United at the London Stadium.

United’s manager also gave the same message to Ashley, who put the club up for sale in October and has rejected a bid from Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners.

“We’ve been in contact talking about how to move forward,” said Benitez.

“We’re progressing, and I have confidence we will do well.

“Exactly as I’m expecting? I don’t know, but I have confidence we can do something that will be important for the team.”

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Benitez hadn’t spoken to Ashley since May, when the pair met for talks in the wake of the club’s promotion to the Premier League.

“I’m talking with Lee (Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director) every day,” said Benitez.

“I was also in contact with Mike Ashley. We have phones – it’s very easy to do!”

Asked what they talked about, Benitez added: “We were talking about January – that’s the main thing.

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“That we have to do what we have to do to improve the team and be sure we can compete and stay in the Premier League.

‘We are where we are. We have what we have. Hopefully, we will improve and be much better in the second part of the league and compete against teams we can compete against.”

Benitez, however, still doesn’t know exactly how much he will have to spend next month.

And the situation is complicated by the ongoing takeover talks with Staveley, who is prepared to fund January spending if they can reach a deal, which would then have to be ratified by the Premier League.

Asked about the budgetary delay, Benitez said: “It’s a different approach, but we’re moving forward, and hopefully we can do well.”