Rafa Benitez makes bold claim about Newcastle after meeting Mike Ashley for dinner

Rafa Benitez says he's "100% convinced" that Newcastle United will stay up.

The club is 18th in the Premier League ahead of tomorrow's game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Benitez and his players had a meal with owner Mike Ashley in a Ponteland restaurant on Wednesday night.

Fans converged on the eaterie to protest against Ashley, who has attended the club's last two games and could also watch the team at Old Trafford.

Benitez said he discussed "everything" with Ashley at the dinner, which lasted for more than three hours.

Asked if he understood the interest in the meeting from fans and the media, Benitez said: “I can understand your interest, but at the same time I can tell you there was nothing new. We were there and it was a positive."

Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez.

Benitez would not reveal exactly what was discussed, though United's manager is looking for backing in January's transfer window, having had to sell to buy in the summer.

“I have to try to manage the situation the best way possible and the best interests of the team," said Benitez.

"If we can get to January and to what we need to do, then better for everyone.

“I can understand the interest, everything that's going around, but I have to do everything to try to help the team improve, and I'm convinced 100% we will stay in the Premier League."