Rafa Benitez has NOT ruled out staying at Newcastle United in the event of relegation – after being made to feel at home on Tyneside.
The club could be relegated tonight by rivals Sunderland, who take on Everton at the Stadium of Light.
Sam Allardyce’s side need to win one of their two remaining games to stay up at the expense of Newcastle and Norwich City.
Benitez, appointed in March, has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave if the club falls out of the Premier League.
However, the 56-year-old – who has a bold and ambitious vision for the club – would consider staying on to manage the team in the Championship if certain conditions were met by the board.
Benitez, attracted by the “potential” he sees at the club, would want control over transfers – that could spell the end for chief scout Graham Carr – and work to start on the proposed redevelopment of the training ground.
The Gazette reported last month that United were considering doing all they could to keep Benitez on Tyneside should the club go down.
It had been assumed that Newcastle – who can also exercise their own break clause – would be unwilling to pay Benitez’s multi-million pound contract in English football’s second tier.
But the Spaniard’s work, ideas and enthusiasm have impressed the club’s hierarchy, staff and players, and there’s now understood to be a willingness to meet his demands should United go down.
For his part, Benitez has been touched by the welcome he has had on Tyneside.
However, he will not make any decision on his future until the last ball has been kicked this season.
Owner Mike Ashley – who now has a hands-off role at Newcastle – could also have an influence on the outcome of discussions between Benitez and managing director Lee Charnley.