Rafa Benitez’s telling response to Jamie Carragher’s scathing comments on Newcastle and Mike Ashley

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez sidestepped questions on his Newcastle United future – after Jamie Carragher said an end-of-season exit was “inevitable”.

Benitez is out of contract at the end of the campaign.

My view was very clear at the beginning when I decided to stay – potential, project, to compete in the top 10. That’s not the case now. So then we have to review things.

Rafa Benitez

United’s manager was involved in a stand-off with the club’s hierarchy in the summer.

Benitez refused to discuss a new deal before agreeing a funding plan going forward.

Newcastle, however, wanted Benitez to commit his future to the club before discussing how much he would be given to spend.

In the end, Benitez had to sell to buy and the club made a profit of more than £20million in the summer transfer window at a time when rivals were investing heavily in their squads.

Winless United are second-bottom of the Premier League ahead of this afternoon’s game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

In a scathing newspaper column, Carragher questioned what owner Mike Ashley’s plan was for the club, which has suffered two relegations in the past decade.

The former Liverpool defender wrote: “Other than the continued employment of Benitez, everything at St James’s Park smacks of zero ambition.”

Asked about Carragher’s comments, Benitez said: “I didn’t read that.

“When we talk about my contract, my future ... it’s not the time for me to talk about that.

“This week I have been focused trying to analyse our performances in the last few games, trying to see what we can do at Crystal Palace to exploit their weaknesses, and to be sure to use our strengths.

“I have to focus on these things, it’s what we have to do.”

Asked when his future would be an issue, Benitez added: “Hopefully at the end of the season.”

Benitez will wait and see if he is able to strengthen his squad in January’s transfer window before he “reviews” his position.

“I don’t want this (my future) as an issue for the press conference,” said the 58-year-old.

“We have to go to January, see what we do.

“How can we do things? And after that, it will be easier to know where we are.

“My view was very clear at the beginning when I decided to stay – potential, project, to compete in the top 10. That’s not the case now. So then we have to review things.”

Benitez – who last month said he had “sympathy” with fans protesting against Ashley – wants the club to be run in a “another way”.

“It’s obvious for everyone that we have to do things in another way,” said Benitez.

“But, at the same time, it’s very clear for me that we have to concentrate to get results and to stay in the Premier League.

“Ask any fan in the street in Newcastle and they will know what the situation is.

“If we can improve something in terms of what we want to do in the future, then fine. But we have to improve on the pitch, that’s it.”

Benitez also reiterated his affection for the club, its fans and the city.

“I’m really pleased here,” said the Spaniard. “I like the city. I like the atmosphere and the fans and everything that I said before. The potential of the club is massive.”