Rafa Benitez reveals what's REALLY changed at Newcastle United since he took charge
Benitez, speaking ahead of this afternoon's season-ending game against Fulham at Craven Cottage, is out of contract at St James's Park on June 30.
And United's manager – who took charge in March 2016 as the club battled relegation and guided the team to the Championship title a year later – is set for talks with owner Mike Ashley next week over his and the club's future.
Asked what had changed in three years, Benitez said: “When I came here, it was a bad time, because everything was in a bad position.
"Football's about emotion and the fans – everything depends on that. But the mood changed, and everyone had more confidence we could stay up. The mood changed, and you could see that even in the last game against Tottenham (which Newcastle won 5-1).
“What’s changed in terms of the club? Not too much (in terms of infrastructure)! In terms of the atmosphere? Yes, it’s been positive, and gives us hope that we could do better.
"Maybe we were expecting to go one step further, and we didn’t do it, but that is the frustration sometimes.”
Asked what was different at the training ground, Benitez said: ”We had 33 players, and maybe half of them they were maybe thinking about wanting to leave, so we had to manage that.
"And now we have reduced (that number) – 27, 26 here. I don’t talk about players on loan, but those who are here. So, in terms of the atmosphere, the people who are here now are quite focused.”