Rafa Benitez: Mike Ashley ‘knows’ what I need at Newcastle

Who could Rafa Benitez sign and sell in January?
Who could Rafa Benitez sign and sell in January?

Rafa Benitez hopes that Mike Ashley has seen for himself what needs to be done in the January transfer window.

Ashley saw Leicester City beat Newcastle United 2-0 at St James’s Park on Saturday.

Mike Ashley.

Mike Ashley.

It was the second successive game that the club’s owner had attended.

The result has left the winless club, which has lost its first four home league games for the first time in its history, in the relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Newcastle manager Benitez had to sell to buy in the summer after refusing to sign a new deal at the club.

And Benitez – who didn’t speak to Ashley after the game – hopes to be given funds in January to strengthen.

I think he knows, because obviously we have been talking with (managing director) Lee Charnley for a while. I think everybody knows.

Rafa Benitez

Asked if Ashley had now seen what needed to be done, Benitez said: “I think he knows, because obviously we have been talking with (managing director) Lee Charnley for a while. I think everybody knows.

“For me, it’s not fair now, because the team is not winning, but they are working so hard and they’re so close.

“We cannot analyse everything now about January, because the team is doing a great effort.

“It’s difficult when you are working so hard and you are doing well, and you still can’t get results. It’s difficult to keep the confidence high.

“We need to start winning games, and it will change. We had the chances against Leicester, and we did not take them, then we concede a penalty that you can avoid.

“There are so many things going against us, it’s difficult to manage.”

There was a protest against Ashley before the game and the 90 minutes was punctuated by chants for Ashley to “get out of our club”.

United’s fans, however, also got behind their team on a bright afternoon, though the mood inside the stadium darkened in the second half.

“The reality is, if the team is doing well, normally the fans are happier,” said Benitez.

“When you’re not doing well, football fans expect to see the team doing things right. We have to improve. That’s it.”

Ashley had gone more than a year without attending a game.

“If he wants to be around, that’s always good,” said Benitez.

“If he’s around, I will talk with him, but I don’t think it makes a big difference to us in terms of our performance on the pitch. We made some mistakes. We gave them hope, and after that we could not react.”

Benitez is targeting a run of what he feels are winnable games next month and in December.

“We have two crucial months in November and December when we play a lot of games against teams we can compete against and get results,” said Benitez.

“We have to be sure in the next two or three months that we can compete and hopefully we do well and then we don’t have to talk so much about January.”

Benitez added: “We have to start winning now.”

Newcastle came through a long winless run last season and finished 10th.

“A lot of teams have bad runs, and we had a long bad one last season,” said Benitez. “We were in the bottom five and still we kept working hard and we finished in the top 10.

“It’s difficult to say when you keep losing, but it’s a long race and we have to carry on.

“We know what we’re doing wrong, and we can do things to change that. We have to work harder to change that.”