Rafa Benitez drops big hint on his Newcastle United future

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez wants to manage until he’s 70 – and he’s determined to win more trophies.

Newcastle United’s manager this week celebrated his 59th birthday.

And Benitez wants to carry on for another 11 years.

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However, this season could yet be his last at St James’s Park.

Benitez is “waiting for answers” from United’s hierarchy after outlining what it would take to keep him at the club, which takes on Southampton at home this evening.

The Champions League winner wants a team capable of competing for trophies and European football – and to do that he needs a stronger hand in the transfer market.

Asked when he plans to retire, Benitez said: “I was talking with a friend – 11 years. Eleven years as a manager, that’s fine.

“You can see Roy Hodgson is still there.

“I like to manage teams, I like to coach players, so I’m happy with that. Always I say, we’re forward-thinking. My staff, they’re young people, and we’re always thinking about how to improve things.

“Me, as a manager, I know you need young people coming into your staff to be sure that you’re talking with players in the way that you have to talk.

“I was like that when I was 26 when I started as a coach, and now still I am looking for solutions, technology, software, stats. It’s just part of the way that you do things normally.

“Always, I say, because I have come from the Real Madrid Academy, we have a winning mentality. We want to win.”

Benitez – who has won trophies throughout his managerial career – is prepared to walk away from Newcastle and wait for the right job if he isn’t convinced that he can take the club further.

“What I want is to get a job that I can enjoy competing,” said Benitez. “If I cannot, maybe I have to stay at home and wait, I don’t know.

“But, at the moment, my idea is to have a team that can compete.

“When I decided to stay here in the Championship, it was to compete to go back to the Premier League and try to be in the top 10 and after, try to go to Europe. That was my idea in the first year, so OK, we cannot now, but we will try.

“Now we’re in a situation where we have to decide if we want to achieve something more.

“I have been here for more than three years, and I was clear from day one. I also think it is what the fans are looking for. We need a team that can compete in the Premier League, and not just survive in the Premier League.

“I think there are ways we can do that, but we have to make sure we are of the same opinion. That’s it. I’m not saying anything special or strange. It’s just a case of saying, ‘OK, what’s our idea? This one. Can we go together? Fine. Perfect’.

“But it has to be something that makes sure I, the fans and everybody here, are sure we can compete.

“It’s not a case of thinking, ‘maybe we can finish 10th or maybe we can finish 17th’. It has to be a team that when you play against anyone, you are sure you can win. Not that a draw will be a great result.”

Asked if he was prepared to leave, Benitez added: “No, I’m prepared to win against Southampton.

“We know that we have to win games so the other things, my people and Lee (Charnley, United’s managing director), they will be talking and we will see where we are.”