Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez talks about new deal, TV windfall explained

With five games left to play, Newcastle United are safe.

The club passed the 40-point milestone yesterday after beating Arsenal 2-1 on a memorable afternoon at St James's Park.

Matt Ritchie and Ayoze Perez were on target against Arsene Wenger's side, who had taken the lead.

READ MORE: Miles Starforth’s match analysis: Newcastle United 2 Arsenal 1

And the result consolidated the club's place in the top half of the Premier League ahead of the April 23 game against ninth-placed Everton at Goodison Park.

We have reaction from the game, including Rafa Benitez's response to questions over a new deal for him at United.

Matt Ritchie (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

Matt Ritchie (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

Former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer had his say on Twitter.

Shearer tweeted: "What a magnificent job Rafa has done this season. Had the players organised and committed. Well done @NUFC, the best team won."

Here's your daily briefing:

It's complicated

Rafa Benitez (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

Rafa Benitez (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

Benitez – who celebrated his his 58th birthday today – has done a remarkable job over the past two years.

United's manager has transformed a moribund team into a fiercely competitive Premier League side.

Benitez's Newcastle contract runs out at the end of next season, so is he prepared to talk about a new contract?

"We will see," said Benitez. “Obviously, it’s too early because we have just finished, but we have plenty of time to talk about ideas for the future.

Ayoze Perez (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

Ayoze Perez (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

“As I have said before, if everything is right, it’s a good opportunity, but everything has to be right.”

The situation, however, is complicated by owner Mike Ashley's keenness to sell the club, which was put on the market late last year.

Meanwhile, Benitez posted a photograph on Twitter of a very special birthday cake.

"Thank you for all your birthday wishes – it means a lot coming from the fans," tweeted Benitez.

Dreaming

Benitez and his players had a dream at the start of what was always going to be a challenging first season back in the Premier League.

Islam Slimani

Islam Slimani

The club, promoted last season, was tipped to go straight back down.

Benitez, however, was always confident that his team could compete higher up the league.

"We were not expecting to be in the top 10, but at the same time I said we were dreaming," said Benitez. “We were awake and thinking that we could do it.

“If you see the way that the players were working for every single ball, and the fans and all the staff.

“Everybody was pushing in the same direction, and that’s the key when you want to succeed in something.”

Cameo

Islam Slimani had a frustrating start to his United career, having arrived on loan from Leicester City with a thigh injury.

Slimani returned to fitness last month, and he made his second appearance for the club against Arsenal.

What's more, the 29-year-old had a hand in Ritchie's winner.

"I think he has the desire," said Benitez. "He's a worker. He wants to impress.

"With him, and after Joselu who was doing a good job as a second striker, and after with Jacob (Murphy), so we had fresh legs and also players that had the ambition and desire to make an impact in the end.

"That helps the team to go out when you're under pressure or to play in the way that we were playing in the end."

Windfall

Newcastle are 10th in the table, so would it mean financially if the club was to finish there this season?

We've crunched the numbers and have come up with an estimated figure.

Find out how much United stand to earn from TV rights deals here.

Click on the video above for a superb series of images of yesterday's game taken by photographer Stephen Dobson