Groundhog day has returned to the Newcastle United training ground again, and again, and again…Rafa Benitez quizzed on his future.
Today’s pre-match press conference no different to the Tottenham, Watford and others ones that have gone before this one.
If Rafa Benitez does know anything, then he isn’t letting on.
Asked about his future, the United boss claims nothing has changed and that talks will continue between his and the club’s representatives.
One thing he did confirm longer term, is that pre-season the players will once again travel for a training camp in Ireland.
Oh for a crystal ball to see if he will still be with the squad in two months time on that trip.
Rafa Benitez talks about next season and the summer transfer window as though he will be still here – but with the words he uses a lot of the time, I do think he is very definitely delivering a message. Whether that is as well as, or instead of indicating he will be here, is anybody’s guess.
The manager says the club have to be ‘quite busy’ in the transfer market, which I translate into ‘very busy’.
By very busy, I mean it is more like five or six players Newcastle need, rather than one or two.
Rafa himself makes the point that once the season ends, Newcastle are instantly three players down with the loans ending. Two of those players having been amongst the best three or four players in the team in these past three months+ they have been at St James Park.
Signing Dubravka and Kenedy would instantly fill two of the six spaces that I believe we need to fill.
Rafa Benitez has met the press ahead of Sunday’s final day of the season against Chelsea.
Rafa declares ‘I want to finish top 10 next season…but not like we are now’, meaning top 10 comfortably and not after a season-long relegation struggle, then to be in a position to try and win something as well.
Rafa Benitez at his pre-Chelsea press conference:
“We have [this summer’s] pre-season organised and we will go away to Ireland [once again].
“I will have more talks with the club [about my future] but my job [at the minute] is to be sure that the players are focused for Chelsea, then my people have to talk with Lee Charnley to try and make progress.
“So we are still talking but no news yet.
“If we do well [on Sunday] I will enjoy the moment, I am just concentrating on doing well against Chelsea.
“For me, the key this season has been the unity between fans, players, staff, everyone – the workrate of this group of players.
“It is important to finish on a high because the players and fans deserve that, we want to win on Sunday against Chelsea.
“We have no real change with team news.
“Clark and Atsu are [still] out, whilst Slimani is suspended and Kenedy is ineligible.”
Manager of the season?:
“I think Pep Guardiola at Manchester City for obvious reasons.
“Sean Dyche at Burnley has had a great season too. It’s not fair to choose.”
“We have to be quite busy in the transfer market and we need more experience.
“We also lose a couple of players as we have three loans, we have to add quality to the good players we already have.
“I want to finish top 10 next season…but not like we are now.
“I want to guarantee we are there and also challenge to win something, to get more – this is not where we are now.”