Rafa Benitez offers update on contract talks as Newcastle eye Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers as replacement

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez says he can't afford to waste energy on thinking about his future as he needs to sort the team's present predicament out first.

By Ross Gregory
Monday, 11 February, 2019, 09:56
Rafa Benitez.

Benitez is out of contract at the end of the season and has so far only held tentative talks about extending his deal.

Newcastle are still deep in relegation trouble, sitting just outside the Premier League drop zone on goal difference ahead of tonight's clash with Wolves.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers is favourite to replace Rafa Benitez.

The Magpies have already started making plans should the Spaniard not stay at the club beyond the season, with Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers and former Huddersfield Town chief David Wagner linked over the weekend.

Benitez, however, is just looking at ensuring United beat the drop this season, even though fans are concerned about him staying at St James's Park.

He said: “I know where fans are coming from. I was coming from Liverpool by train the other day and the fans were asking me the same question.

“The point is, you have to do what is best for your team and at the moment, the best thing we can do is to focus and concentrate on that.

“Every game is a final for us, so we cannot waste energy on other thoughts.

“We have to concentrate on the games, we will have plenty of time for other things."

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One of the sticking points for Benitez has been wanting guarantees over the club's ambition, with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley still looking to sell the club.

The former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss has urged for more funds to spend, and Ashley finally broke the club's transfer record last month to sign Miguel Almiron.

However, Benitez insists that doesn't make much difference to the overall picture.

“Obviously one or two signings at the end of the transfer window doesn’t change everything," he told Sky Sports.

“We are a little bit better than before but we still have to talk about a lot of things if we want to move forward.

“That is something we will have plenty of time to talk about.

“[The next few months] really important for the future.

“The main thing is to be sure that you win the games you have to win and stay in the Premier League then the future is great.

“But you have to concentrate on that, because if you lose energy talking about other things in future interviews, we will make a mistake."