Rafa Benitez reveals whether there's been a change in Mike Ashley's approach to transfers at Newcastle
Rafa Benitez is hopeful that Mike Ashley will back him in January's transfer window.
Ashley met Benitez and his Newcastle United players for a meal this week.
And Benitez – who had to sell to buy in the summer after refusing to sign a new deal before getting assurances over investment – says the club’s owner is aware of what he wants to do in the window.
Asked if some good could come from the get-together, Benitez said: “Yes, I think so.
“I’ve said before, it’s very common, a lot of teams do this, have lunch or dinner together with the president.
“Normally, it’s positive, so I don’t see any negative on that.”
Ashley has watched Newcastle’s last two games, having previously gone more than a year without attending a fixture.
“I think that was his idea to try to support the team, to support the manager,” said Benitez. “Again, I think it’s positive.”
Benitez said “everything” was discussed at the meal, though he wouldn’t divulge what was said at the table.
Asked if he was more positive ahead of the January window, Benitez said: “I hope so.
“He knows my ideas and I know his ideas.
“If you talk about everything and you see the games, it would be easier for everyone to understand.
“Still, I have a lot of confidence, and I’m very positive about this team. But, still, if we can do something, it will be better.”
Benitez’s relationship with Ashley had become strained over the billionaire’s unwillingness to invest in the team.
Is this the start of a new, improved relationship with Ashley?
“Yes, but I talk with (United managing director) Lee Charnley every day.
“I don’t think it is an issue, the communication with the owner, when you talk with someone on a daily basis.
“We have to go to January knowing what we have to do.”
Ashley could attend this evening’s game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
“If he wants to talk, it’s fine,” said Benitez.
“If he wants to come to games and wants to come to the training ground, I don’t see any negative in that. It’s always positive.
“We have confidence in what we do on the training pitch, so anyone can come and see what we do.”
Benitez says his players were “relaxed” around Ashley at the dinner.
“It was a pleasant dinner, that’s it,” said Benitez. “Everything that we were talking about will stay between us.
“Normally the clubs I have been at I have had dinners with the owner, it is common in football. I will not talk too much about that, because we have an important game to play.
“It was a pleasant dinner, we spoke about everything, and now we have to concentrate on football.
“The players were fine, everyone was relaxed and that’s it.
“We talked about Manchester United, how difficult it is and what we have to do.
“It is very common in any team to have dinners with directors, staff, the owners, president.
“It’s very common. It was pleasant, fine.”