Rafael Benitez tells Newcastle owner Mike Ashley he must honour cash promises in January transfer window

Ashley is looking to sell the club for around £250m

Martin Hardy
Friday 08 December 2017 20:50
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Benitez believed more money should have been spent on players after promotion
Benitez believed more money should have been spent on players after promotion

Rafa Benitez has told the Newcastle owner Mike Ashley that he must honour the cash promises he made in the summer to protect the club’s Premier League status.

Ashley was photographed after meeting the financier Amanda Staveley in a curry house on Wednesday night. It is believed to be the first time the pair have met as Staveley looks to convince Ashley to sell her the club for £250m. The controversial Newcastle owner delayed a trip to America to make sure he could see the head of PCP Capital Partners.

The Christmas deadline originally favoured by Ashley to conclude the sale has now effectively passed and there is only the possibility of any sort of agreement before the end of January. That is potentially a major problem for Benitez as he looks to steer Newcastle away from the relegation zone, following a run that has seen them pick up only one point from the last 18.

There was a major falling out at the club in the summer when he believed more should have been spent on players following promotion. A figure of £70m had been mentioned following a meeting in Shirebrook with Ashley. Just over £40m net ended up being spent.

Ashley now faces a difficult January. There is a chance he may not own the club by the month’s close, or he could still be in control and fighting relegation.

Benitez insists he needs to strengthen and has called on the current Newcastle owner to spend, regardless of what happens in the takeover.

“We had a meeting in May, and I'm expecting the money we weren't spending (in the summer) could be available, so hopefully we can sit down and see where we are,” he said. “I think it’s obvious that we have some positions that we have to reinforce. That has been my message from the beginning of the season. We have a very good group of players who are working very hard, but always you need players and you have to adjust things.

“We need to improve. Some people say, 'Rafa is asking for that..’ Listen, every manager in the world is asking for that, but especially us because we didn't do what we had to do.

“It's so simple. You have to improve these positions, so if I am a player, I will try to give my best to make sure it's not my position. I will compete and I will say, 'I will be the best, so don't look for anyone in my position'. It's nothing against our players. Our players are fantastic because they are giving everything but if you can find another one who is better than someone in a position then we have to do it.

“We will talk about what we have and what we need and what we have in terms of money in the summer and what we did not spend and we have to now.

“I will have a meeting and I will ask the questions and we will see where we are, but at the moment, I don’t know. I want someone to write the cheques, that is good enough! I need to know where we are. I’m confident we can stay up, but we need help in some positions because as soon as we have some injuries then we have problems winning games.

“Hopefully we can do what we have to do and I will be positive after January.

“I think he (Ashley) will have a clear idea about what he needs to do with his business to improve and then it will be much better.”

Benitez insisted he had been unaware of the meeting between Ashley and Staveley.

“I didn’t know because I was just preparing for the game against Leicester,” he added. “I was watching Everton a little bit yesterday because we are playing them next week. Someone told me, but I don’t have anything to say. I don’t have the information, but it will not change the way I approach the game. It doesn’t change anything. We just have to get ready for Leicester and then after they will mention it if it is necessary.

“It will not change anything in terms of the support that they have to give our players tomorrow.”

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