Rafa Benitez says he’s only just begun at Newcastle United.
The club is 10th in the Premier League table ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Arsenal.
Newcastle are all but safe after three successive victories, and Benitez and managing director Lee Charnley are already planning for next season.
However, Benitez only has one more year left on his United contract, and his future hinges on end-of-season talks with owner Mike Ashley, who put the club up for sale late last year.
Newcastle’s manager, given time and money, believes he can take the club even higher up the table.
“The timing is crucial when you go to a club to build something and develop a project,” said Benitez.
If you’re at the beginning, you still have plenty of room for improvement.Rafa Benitez
“If the team is not winning for some time, it’s easier to go there and change things.
“If you’re winning, it’s very difficult, and if you have won already, it is very difficult too.
“In this case, here, what you have is all the potential – the fans, the stadium, the fans going to games aways and at home, the city behind us.
“We have a very good group of players at the moment, in terms of mentality, and they decide to succeed.
“Everything’s fine, but we’re at the beginning. That is very clear now.
“We have to keep a lot of things that we have done well for the next season.”
Asked how much further he could take the club, Benitez added: “If you’re at the beginning, you still have plenty of room for improvement.
“We have great potential. If I decide to stay in the Championship, it’s because I could see fans, city, environment, everything, staff – everybody was really, really delighted to see things going forward.
“You could see everybody pushing and everybody helping you and everybody trying to do their best.
“I have been in a lot of teams, and, in some of them, they’ve been winning.
“They thought ‘OK, done’, and they were going clearly downhill. This club, if we do the right things, we have to go uphill. It can be faster, but we have to do things in the right way.”