Rafa Benitez has a message for fans concerned about his strained relationship with Mike Ashley at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez says there’s “plenty of time” for him to patch up his relationship with Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.

Benitez met Ashley in the summer for talks over a transfer budget and his contract.

However, they didn’t come to an agreement and a frustrated Benitez had to sell to buy in the transfer window.

United’s manager – who is out of contract next summer – has put off talks over a new deal until late this season.

Many supporters fear that this will Benitez’s last season at the club given his frustration at a lack of ambition and investment.

Asked if there was a chance that they would meet before it was too late, Benitez said: “It’s too early. We have plenty of time to discuss things, don’t worry.”

It’s not an issue (for me). Mike Ashley’s the owner, and he’s welcome here when he wants to come. That’s it.

Rafa Benitez

A report this week claimed that Ashley was upset that he hadn’t been invited to watch training by Benitez, whose side take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium this evening.

Benitez, however, has made it clear that the billionaire is welcome to visit.

“He’s the owner – he’s welcome here,” said Benitez. “It’s not an issue (for me). Mike Ashley’s the owner, and he’s welcome here when he wants to come. That’s it.”

Asked if he would personally invite Ashley to the training ground, Benitez added: “It’s not an issue for us to discuss now before we play Manchester City. We train every week, we’re always here. We have to concentrate on football.”

Meanwhile, Benitez has spoken to Kenedy in an attempt to boost his confidence after a shaky start to the season.

Kenedy, re-signed on loan from Chelsea, was disappointing in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest.

Asked about Kenedy’s form, Benitez said: “We’re trying to give him confidence. In the last couple of days, I’ve had a few meetings with individuals.

“I have spoken with them, and I’m trying to help them learn, to show them what they have to do, analyse games on the video. After, we practice. He has my confidence.”