Rafa Benitez reacts to Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s appearance at St James’s Park

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez welcomed Mike Ashley’s return to St James’s Park – after fans turned on Newcastle United’s owner.

Ashley was at St James’s Park for Saturday’s 3-0 win over Cardiff City.

I will not change my game plan, it will not change my substitutions, but it could be good if he comes. I certainly don’t think it’s a bad thing.

Rafa Benitez

The result saw the club climb out of the Premier League’s relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Watford.

It was Ashley’s first appearance at St James’s Park since November’s win over Bournemouth.

United supporters chanted for Ashley – who met Benitez for talks after the game – to sell up throughout the 90 minutes.

However, Benitez, waiting for a transfer breakthrough, felt that Ashley’s appearance was a positive.

“It’s fine,” said Benitez. “I will not change my game plan, it will not change my substitutions, but it could be good if he comes. I certainly don’t think it’s a bad thing.”

Benitez has not spoken about incoming transfers since admitting he was “worried” after the club’s Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.

“I will not talk,” said Benitez. “I will just keep working and get the best from these players.”

Benitez, looking to sign a No 10, a winger and a left-back, didn’t believe that the animosity directed a Ashley during the game affected his players.

“The players are quite focused – they were really, really focused (against Cardiff),” said Benitez.

“The players, especially the foreign players, they’re not bothered about what people are saying. They’re just worrying about what happens on the pitch.”

Ashley is yet to find a buyer for the club, which was put up for sale in October 2017.

“Again, we try to keep these things outside of the – they’re not of importance,” said Benitez. “If you play against a team and you lose, people say ‘oh it is because of that’, but the players, they don’t worry about what is going on in terms of takeovers.

“Maybe the English players worry a bit more, because they hear everything, but the foreign players, they do not have a clue.”