Rafa Benitez couldn’t have painted Mike Ashley into a tighter corner if he’d tried.

A very rare appearance at St James Park by the club’s owner, coincided with the best performance and result of the season.

Maybe he should come more often…

Of course the circumstances meant that the actual game and scoreline paled into insignificance compared to the big talking point, will Rafa Benitez stay or go?

A brief meeting was confirmed to have taken place last week with Lee Charnley, when no doubt Rafa Benitez laid it on the line the backing he expects from the club owner if he is to stay.

Subsequently, it was confirmed last night that the manager had met Mike Ashley for talks, no doubt to discuss the minimum backing he expects off the owner, as previously outlined to the organ grinder’s monkey, Lee Charnley.

The fans had set about making it their business to try and convince Rafa Benitez to stay with a show of love and respect on Sunday – but the Manager made clear after the final whistle that this wasn’t necessary, as every day the people he meets, not just on matchday, remind him of just what a positive impression he has made.

Any football manager has three key relationships and the one with the fans has got a massive tick, whilst this six game unbeaten run and the performances within it, tell us the players are also very much in tune with Rafa.

Which leaves the club hierarchy and in our case, boils basically down to what Mike Ashley is going to do now?

Rafa Benitez couldn’t have made it more crystal clear that it is now down to the owner to convince him to stay, Rafa spelling out that the fans have already done their bit,saying ‘my heart is telling me that yes…’.

However, Rafa Benitez is in such a strong position and won’t allow himself to be made a fool of.

It is great for the supporters because when he says ‘I am really open to talking..’ and ‘but my brain is saying to analyse what is going on’ – the manager is most definitely getting the message out there that he expects the club to now be run on a proper footing, with the manager making all the big decisions and not accepting the joke conditions that Pardew, Carver and McClaren were happy to agree to.

Three people promoted way beyond their CVs and abilities and subsequently so desperate for the job that they would sign and agree to anything.

If Rafa Benitez stays then even despite the relegation we can look forward with massive hope AND expectation.

If Mike Ashley messes this one up then you can only see disaster ahead.

Rafa Benitez on whether to stay at Newcastle United:

“My heart is telling me that yes, this is a great opportunity, city and club.

“But my brain is saying to analyse what is going on…”

“I am really open to talking and see what happens.

“I have been in football all this time and you want to be sure people love you that if you work hard that they recognise that you are trying your best and I have this here.

“I know that every day when I walk in the streets.

“Everybody is so positive and the atmosphere today doesn’t surprise me too much.

“They were supporting for 90 minutes, I knew it would be like this and that is why I am so open to keep on talking.”