Rafa Benitez says he was “proud” to hear fans chant his name at St James’s Park.
Newcastle United beat Chelsea 3-0 yesterday on the final day of the season.
The result ensured that the club ended the campaign in 10th place.
Supporters chanted “Rafa Benitez, we want you to stay” during the game.
Representatives of Benitez – who has a year left on his deal – are in talks with the club’s hierarchy over a new deal and a summer transfer budget.
And the 58-year-old was touched by the support for him – and his players.
I was really proud of that. But you cannot sing the name of the manager if the team is doing badly. In this case, what the players did last season, and what they have done this year, was massive.Rafa Benitez
“I was really proud of that,” said Benitez.
“But you cannot sing the name of the manager if the team is doing badly.
“In this case, what the players did last season, and what they have done this year, was massive.
“The fans appreciate this togetherness, and the relationship we have created.
“The players care, and the manager and staff and everybody.
“We were all working together to achieve what we wanted to achieve, which is success for the club.”
Newcastle dominated the Chelsea game from start to finish.
Ayoze Perez netted twice and Dwight Gayle also found the net as United ended a run of four successive defeats on a “perfect Sunday” for Benitez.
“We were talking about that before the game,” said Benitez. “The way that the team was working in the whole season, to be safe with five games to play was fantastic.
“The bad run we had at the end was a pity, so we needed to try to do something to change our luck.
“We did it against Tottenham, although it was not enough, and we did it again (against Chelsea).
“It was a perfect day for the fans and the players. We finished in 10th position, it was a great game with great goals, and a really good atmosphere throughout the whole game, and especially at the end.
“It was pretty much a perfect Sunday.”
Benitez, with the right backing, feels he can take the club even higher up the table.
“It’s not enough just to finish 10th with four or five teams around you,” said Benitez.
“What I would like is to be sure that the team is able to compete to finish above 10th.
“That means having the right quality, the right mentality and the right level through the whole season, not just for some performances.
“This group of players have done so well, so it would be easy to say ‘OK, well you are already in the top 10’.
“I think we have to do something more to make sure the group is stronger and more competitive.”
Asked if the outpouring of support would influence him when he decides his future, Benitez said: “I still have one year left on my contract, so it is different.
“Now, we have to make sure that we do the right things and are on the same page.
“The fans have ambitions and we have ambitions, and we have to know if everybody has the same feelings too. The potential is there.
“It is easy to see what we have, now we need to do something more and be a little bit better.”