Rafa Benitez says he’s “risked” his career at Newcastle United – because of his love for the club.
Benitez’s side are just two points above the relegation zone ahead of this evening’s game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Yes, it’s a risk. But it’s a challenge, and I will try to do my best to win every single game. If I make a mistake with the team selection, with the tactics, whatever. Fine. But in my experience, I make less mistakes than others.Rafa Benitez
And United’s manager pleaded for unity ahead of the game, which comes as Benitez waits for news on transfers.
The club is yet to make a transfer breakthrough, and fans fear that owner Mike Ashley will not back Benitez given that he hopes to sell Newcastle in the coming months.
Benitez again refused to talk about this month’s transfer window at his pre-match press briefing.
However, Benitez did want to talk about the importance of unity between now and the end of the season.
“We saw last year (when United finished 10th) that we can do it, but if we want to do it this year, we have to make sure everybody is united,” said Benitez.
“We cannot be wasting energy about the tactics, or substitutions, or the signings, ‘this player is good, this player is bad’, because we have what we have and we are what we are.
“The idea last year was to stick together, and we are really proud to keep united.”
Benitez had been looking for a long-term project in English football when he took over at St James’s Park in March 2016.
However, Ashley’s unwillingness to back him in recent transfers windows has left the club vulnerable to another relegation.
Asked why he was still at United when he could be at a better-funded club, Benitez said: “I said before, I wanted to come to England, to stay close to my family. And then this club was an opportunity, to be in one of the top 10, I will say, I will not say another number just in case.
“You have the top six, and then you could be there – between the seventh and the 10th. That was my view.
“We were trying. We couldn’t save the team in the first year, and then we won the Championship, so we said ‘OK, now, is the time’.
“Then you say the first year is quite difficult, but we finished 10th. Then it’s the third year, and you try, you try.
“I had teams, agents, talking with more money than here. When I say more money, more money than here.
“But still I want to do something here, I want to stay in England, I’m close to my family, the fans have been fantastic, so you try to do something properly. It’s a challenge but it’s a risk.
“Yes, it’s a risk. But it’s a challenge, and I will try to do my best to win every single game. If I make a mistake with the team selection, with the tactics, whatever. Fine. But in my experience, I make less mistakes than others. Not that I am better than others. But I make less mistakes than others.
“Obviously, it depends on the players that you have. You can be right or you can be wrong.”
Asked what he meant by “risk”, Benitez said: “It’s a risk for everyone.
“Obviously, for nobody it’s a good situation that we’re losing games and we are near the bottom of the table.
“For this massive city, massive club, to be in a relegation battle again, it’s a pity.”