Rafa Benitez reveals why he's feeling 'positive' about Mike Ashley meeting at Newcastle United
Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United future hinges on a meeting with Mike Ashley.
Benitez, out of contract in the summer, hopes to sit down with the club’s owner next week.
United’s manager and his representatives have already held talks with managing director Lee Charnley.
And Benitez is hopeful that he and Ashley can find some common ground.
The 59-year-old wants more investment in the squad and greater autonomy in the transfer market.
Ashley, for his part, is adamant that the Premier League club will have to fund transfers and investment from its profits.
Asked who would be present at the meeting, Benitez said: “I try not to say too much, but you are clever enough to know if we have a meeting at the end of the season, you know that the owner has to be around.”
Benitez’s future could be clearer this time next week.
“It depends,” said Benitez. “What does a meeting mean? It means talking, and if we are close and we have similar ideas, it will be easier. If not, maybe you have to keep talking or maybe not.
“Or maybe say ‘we are here – forget about that’. Or maybe ‘we are here, we can manage’. Until you sit down and start talking, you will not know where you are.”
Benitez has not met Ashley – who took the squad out for a meal last October – regularly during his three years at Newcastle.
Asked if he needed a closer relationship with Ashley, Benitez said: “When you were asking about the dinner or things like that, it’s like that’s the most important thing.
“Not really. We are professionals and we have to do what we have to do. If I can see or meet Mike Ashley, it’s fine.
“We are talking about football, Newcastle United and what we can achieve. That’s the main thing.
“I can have a good relationship or bad relationship with you (the press), but it doesn’t really matter. We meet each other once a week and we have to be professional.
“It’s just what we want to do for the future. My message has been very clear from day one.
“The potential of this club is there. Can we try to achieve what we want to achieve? Yes. I think we have to do it. Which is the way to do it? That’s the key.”
Benitez, as it stands, has the final say on incoming and outgoing transfers.
However, he doesn’t have a defined budget and the club’s hierarchy can veto his proposed deals.
Asked if what guarantees he would demand from Ashley, Benitez said: “It’s very difficult.
“I can say yes or no to a player, but still I don’t control the finances. It’s not that you can guarantee anything.
“I can say ‘yes, I want to sign this player’, but we don’t have the money or we have the money? Can we manage the situation in another way so, even though we don’t have the money now, we can get the money later?
“These are the kind of things we have to talk about to get what we want or we are closer to what we want.”
Asked if he could believe any promises from Ashley, Benitez added: ‘It’s not a question of whether I believe him or not. It’s about what we are trying to achieve.
“What do we have? Can we go here? We’ll see what the competition is like.
“I’m going to the meeting in a positive way, because we have the potential and we can do a lot of things better.
“If we do that, we’ll have more chances to be closer to the top 10.
“Do I think we can change everything in one window and be in the top six? No. Can we get closer? Yes. We can head in the right direction.”