Rafa Benitez says Newcastle United could be a “top” Premier League club.
Owner Mike Ashley this week formally put the club up for sale, and the billionaire hopes to conclude a deal before January’s transfer window.
Benitez was frustrated at Ashley’s unwillingness to spend in the summer transfer window.
And fans – who have long been critical of Ashley – are hopeful that an owner can be found who will invest more in the club.
Benitez, however, was guarded when asked about Ashley’s decision to sell ahead of this afternoon’s Premier League home game against Crystal Palace, though he did acknowledge the “excitement” among supporters.
The Newcastle manager said: “I know the fans will be excited.
It’s one of the top sides in England if you put everything together. The question is, is it reaching its level?Rafa Benitez
“I know everything about the history, the comments – that doesn’t change my opinion.
“My concentration has to be on the players and the preparation.”
Asked about the importance of the next few months, Benitez went on: “Because I want to stick with my answer and concentrate on football and Crystal Palace, I will not say too much.
“For us – the manger and the players – we have to be sure we keep performing on the pitch and we will continue working and if something is going on, we will know.
“And, hopefully, it will be fine. If not, still we have to have our plan ready just in case.”
Benitez, however, did touch on the potential of the club, which hasn’t won a major trophy since 1969.
“It’s one of the top sides in England if you put everything together,” said the 57-year-old.
“The question is, is it reaching its level?
“Obviously, no. Can we do it? I think so. We have to do everything right.
“It’s not just if you have money, you have to have the right players with the right mentality coming here.
“You have to put a lot of things together. If you have good staff, people working in advance you have more chance to do well.”
Asked what was the club’s level, Benitez said: “A higher level than we are at the moment. I think we can do better.
“I don’t want to say too much, because I know you’re looking for the headline, but this club has to be in the top 10.
“I don’t say that because of the fans or the city. It’s because you can see when you compare to other clubs – you can see the potential is there.
“It’s just to do the right things. I think we can be in the top 10.
“What does that mean? Ninth, 10th or maybe more. It depends if we do the right things.
“You need to do the right things every day.
“Sometimes, when you sign players, it’s not the money, it’s just the mentality.
“If you have the right player with the right mentality, it could be a good signing. If they’ve not got the right mentality, maybe it’s a bad signing.
“So if you want to improve any club, the fans, they will see things happening on the pitch but you have to be sure the other things are right and that gives you more guarantees on the pitch.”