Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez explains his thinking, Dwight Gayle concern

Ayoze Perez
Ayoze Perez

Rafa Benitez has upped the ante ahead of Newcastle United's season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur.

Benitez's side ended their pre-season campaign with a 2-0 win over Hellas Verona yesterday.

Ayoze Perez and Christian Atsu were on target at St James's Park.

READ MORE: Newcastle's Ciaran Clark explains THAT photo with Villa's Jack Grealish

Benitez took a lot of "positives" from his team's performance against Verona, managed by ex-United coach Fabio Pecchia.

However, Newcastle's manager also strongly hinted at his unhappiness at the club's transfer business.

Christian Atsu

Christian Atsu

Here's your daily briefing:

Tough talking

Newcastle have spent more than £30million so far this summer, though the net outlay is far lower following the departures of Florian Thauvin and Daryl Murphy.

And Benitez, it's clear, feels a lot more needs to be spent before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Owner Mike Ashley had promised Benitez "every last penny" the club generated through promotion and player sales in May.

Benitez hasn't forgotten that pledge.

Speaking in the strongest terms yet, the 57-year-old said: “When I decided to stay, I was expecting another thing.

“Now we are where we are. I decided to stay because of a lot of positive things I could see, starting with the fans.

“I will try to do my best to be sure that the team we have will be good enough to compete and stay as high as we can in the Premier League.”

Read the full interview here.

Fitness concern

Will he be fit? Or won't he?

Benitez is sweating on the fitness of Dwight Gayle, his first-choice striker, ahead of Sunday's season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur.

Gayle was not involved against Verona, and Benitez explained his absence after the fixture.

“Dwight is training with the fitness coach, so hopefully he can carry on training this week," said Benitez.

"If everything is fine, I think he will be OK for Sunday.

“He needs the confidence to know he can sprint and do everything as he was doing before.

“It’s a question of confidence, so we will carry on pushing him in training, and hopefully we can get back the confidence.”

Asked if it was a hamstring problem, Benitez added: “It’s not his hamstring – it’s more the feeling that he has.

“He’s not comfortable, and we don’t want to take any risks.”

Benitez also gave his verdict on United's performance against Verona, who won promotion to Serie A last season.

And finally...

Is Steve McClaren set for a return to management – with Heart of Midlothian?

The former Newcastle head coach has been linked with the vacant post.

Hearts are looking for new head coach following the dismissal of Ian Cathro last week.

Cathro had left Benitez's coaching team at United last season to take charge at Tynecastle.