The contrast between this Rafa Benitez burgeoning era at Newcastle and the grim years under Alan Pardew, couldn’t be starker.

The fact the club are actually in the Championship now is immaterial, in terms of the outlook/optimism of the supporters thanks to the current Manager.

As you can see below, when quizzed at Tuesday’s press conference about media speculation, Rafa Benitez simply said that both he and all his key players were happy and that nobody wants to leave.

The unspoken words of course, are that regardless of what players want or not, they wouldn’t be allowed to leave either – unless the United boss was happy for that to happen.

In the days under Alan Pardew when he was more than happy to do Mike Ashley’s dirty work, this time of year would see statements from the then Manager along the lines of ‘nobody is leaving….but if they did it would take a massive offer to get Newcastle to sell’.

Whilst Pardew would claim he was telling everybody Newcastle didn’t want to sell, the reality of course was the opposite, he was making clear Ashley would sell anybody if enough money was offered – never mind the impact it might have on that season and the team longer-term.

How nice is it not to approach each transfer window dreading what is going to happen, the irony of course being that this is when Newcastle are in the second tier, yet when the only focus in the Premier League should have been on buying & building the squad, instead the opposite was true.

Rafa Benitez:

“I saw the links (rumours of move to Liverpool) but I have been talking with Jamaal Lascelles and people around him.

 “He is happy, he’s OK.

“He is a good player for us and so I don’t see any big change in January around him, or anyone really.

“With those players that are playing a lot of games, with the team at the top and the possibilities of the future, I don’t see anyone who would like to go.

“I maybe could see maybe somebody coming but still our position is the same – we are happy with the squad at the minute.

“The players are fine and enjoying their football.”

Off to West Ham?

“I have a lot of respect for West Ham because when I was in contact with them (before going to Real Madrid in summer 2015) they were really professional – but I am really happy here and we carry on trying to win games.

“I don’t see any big change now at the club as a whole, I’m giving you my answer…I don’t see any big changes at this club in January.”