Rafa Benitez discusses his January window plans - hopes takeover and transfer talk does not distract Newcastle players

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez hopes takeover talk will not become a distraction for his Newcastle United players while admitting work goes on regardless ahead of the January transfer window.

The manager is yet to be told what his budget will be by the Magpies’ hierarchy despite recent meetings with managing director Lee Charnley.

And while it remains to be seen whether Benitez will be given funds this winter, despite the desperate need to strengthen his Premier League hand, the manager hopes all the talk of transfers and takeovers will not makes his players take their eye off the ball.

“I will say that I hope it will not be a distraction,” said the manager, whose side take on Everton at Goodison Park tomorrow.

“Why? Because the players, they know that they have to perform, that’s it.

“For us, we have experience of this. We are in the same situation that we were in before [last year]. When we say, ‘business as usual’, it’s because we know that it will not change our plans.

“Our plans are to look for the [transfer] targets. Fine. We are looking for the targets, so it depends who is there and who is available.

“But for me, we carry on and thinking that Mike [Ashley] will be there, and we have to choose the right players for us. That’s it.”

This is, of course, nothing new to Benitez.

It is a situation the Spaniard accepts but, as we all know, is far from satisfied with.

He, with his scouts and chief scout Steve Nickson, have been working on a number of possible deals, watching games and players and making sure United are as prepared as can possibly be for the window reopening.

Miguel Almiron of Atlanta United is at the top of that list of priorities.

Whether he will be given funds to strengthen is another thing altogether - Benitez has rarely been given the tools to go out and get the men at the very top of his wanted list.

“We have been here before. We have to carry on with the same idea. After we will see where we can, but I cannot change anything,” he said of the situation.

“For me, as a manager, Lee told me that it is ‘business as usual’. So will we change what we do? No.

“Steve, he will continue working and watching players, giving me names, and that’s it.

“The list is the same. It’s how many names you don’t use, or you do use.

“The list is the same, no matter what.”

Benitez continued: “I am the manager and I am not in charge of the financial part of the business.

“So it’s just for me to concentrate on football, and then I will talk with Lee and we will see.

“Believe me, it will be exactly the same, no matter what. We have the same list of players, then we will see if we can do this, that, or that, and we will do the same, and then we will try to concentrate on football.”

Many, including United’s own captain Jamaal Lascelles, point the finger firmly at last season’s Amanda Staveley takeover saga as one of the reasons for Newcastle’s mid-season slump.

This time around, it’s not something that Benitez thinks will have too much of an impact on his dressing-room.

When asked whether he had discussed the takeover with the players, Benitez said: “No, not really because I am not really sure it was ‘affecting’ them. I’m sure it’s because we were losing, and that’s it.

“Not because they were losing their focus because they were talking about the takeover or anything like that. I don’t think that players who have been here six months or one year see the big picture; they just concentrate on doing their jobs, that’s it.”

“You have some players here who have been here more years, players who know England and they have friends around.

“But the foreign players, half of them I’m sure are not watching the TV - and probably didn’t even know Mike did an interview.”