Rafa Benitez has met the media on Friday afternoon for his pre-match West Ham press conference.
An interesting one as predictably the United boss was grilled about the transfer window, as well as Saturday’s match in London.
Rafa confirmed that he would be missing Jesus Gamez who has had an operation on his ankle.
Whilst the manager also stated that he expects Aleksandar Mitrovic to be missing for the festive period, saying ‘out for around 10 days’. This would take us up to 1 January which is the away game at Stoke, a fourth game in a nine day period for Rafa’s team.
As for potential reinforcements in January, the United boss confirmed that no agreement has been reached on any players coming in or out. It was claimed earlier this week that Chelsea’s Kenedy had been ‘secured’ as a loan signing by Newcastle.
In terms of backing in the transfer window, this sounds like a challenge to the club’s owner if ever there was one: ‘I’m confident that Mike Ashley will deliver what we need to stay in the Premier League’.
However, Rafa Benitez also said ‘We are progressing and trying to make things happen. But I don’t know the budget I have, whether players need to go first yet, or whatever’.
Not the most positive of messages as we all wait to see what Mike Ashley will actually do, if anything.
As for any Newcastle takeover to potentially help save the situation, that is about as clear as what Mike Ashley will do in this transfer window.
First things first though and three points at West Ham would do everybody a favour.
Rafa Benitez West Ham press conference:
“In terms of transfer window, we don’t have any agreements with anyone. We have to keep focused on football. The scouting department are looking at players and are working hard.
‘I’m confident that Mike Ashley will deliver what we need to stay in the Premier League.
“We haven’t received any offers for our players. We have to do things as quickly as possible but I have the confidence and belief that we will do it.
“We are progressing and trying to make things happen. But I don’t know the budget I have, whether players need to go first yet, or whatever.
“We have to keep the team spirit. Against Arsenal, we were pushing and making chances at the end. The players are giving everything. They care and they are trying.
“We create a good atmosphere in the training sessions. We create competition between the them. If we win one game, it will change everything. The confidence will come back.
“We will train before the next game. We will have time on the pitch (on Christmas Day), then give the players some time to spend with their families.
“We were doing so well that everyone was expecting us to be towards the top of the table. We have had a bad run but we are confident that we can do well.
“Some of these games are one-goal margins. We have to be sure we don’t make the same mistakes.
“We are talking about a very good team (at West Ham). They have some good players. Maybe it was the confidence. Now they are reacting and doing well.
“We have to put all of the effort in to make sure West Ham have a tough game. I am confident we can win.
“We have some injuries and not too much experience. I have to see if the players are fit and available and pick the best players for every game.
“Mitrovic still has a problem with his back. He will be out for around ten days. Jesús Gamez has had an operation on his ankle.”