Rafa Benitez reiterates his view on Newcastle United's potential – and the backing he needs from Mike Ashley

Rafa Benitez says Newcastle United should be challenging for European football.

By Miles Starforth
Sunday, 21 April, 2019, 08:40

The club beat Southampton 3-1 at St James's Park yesterday thanks to a hat-trick from Ayoze Perez.

And the result took the team up to 12th in the Premier League with three games left to play.

Benitez, out of contract in the summer, will only sign a new deal if he will get the backing he thinks he needs from owner Mike Ashley to take it higher up the league.

Untied's manager will not stay on if the only goal is too-flight survival.

"We are in the same position as we were before," Benitez told BBC Sport. "When I came here, I could see the potential of the club to be challenging, certainly for seventh to 10th in the table, but looking higher.

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Rafa Benitez.

"But when you analyse the transfer fees and wage bills of other teams, we're not competing.

"I am the manager until June 30. We can see the potential. When you see the teams between seventh and 15th, we have to compete with them."

Benitez, appointed manager just over three years ago, said he was "waiting for answers" from the club's hierarchy after outlining what it would take to get him to extend his stay at St James's Park.

Asked if he would now look to speak to Ashley, Benitez said: “I have no idea.

"We have to talk. Everything that will happen between now and June 30 has to be good for everyone. One way or another way, still I'm the manager until June 30.

"I have to decide if we sign anyone, so we have to talk any time."