Newcastle United

Newcastle United: Benitez confirms Newcastle is his sole focus both on and off the pitch

Newcastle United: Benitez confirms Newcastle is his sole focus both on and off the pitch

Newcastle manager, Rafa Benitez held his usual pre-match press conference this afternoon, during which he admitted talks about a new contract with the club have taken place, and stressed his eyes are firmly on The Magpies and nothing else.

It will be a relief to fans to hear that finally there is dialogue between the manager and Lee Charnley, particularly with the speculation building up day by day as the process keeps dragging on.

When asked about the rumours of approaches from the likes of Celtic and the Chinese Super League, Rafa quipped: “I can read the same as you.”

He added that there has been “some contact” with Charnley and that talking to Newcastle is his “priority”, but stressed that his main focus was on the games ahead.

The Spaniard said: “I can read what is going on in press. My priority is to keep talking Newcastle and see where we are. I’m not thinking about anything else.

“We have some contact, I see (managing director) Lee Charnley sometimes. It’s too early (to talk). We have to concentrate on the games.”

Newcastle travel to Arsenal on Monday Night Football this week, and Benitez confirmed that skipper Jamaal Lascelles is fit for the game, and added that, although he is suspended for Monday’s game, Schar is now fine, following the head injury he picked up in Georgia playing for Switzerland last weekend.

Benitez knows his side are just one win away from reaching the self-imposed target to be considered safe, and the speculation surrounding his future is an unwanted distraction.

He, naturally, wants to concentrate purely on the football, for now, and says that the key is to stay calm for the run-in, especially if they don’t get the win he wants at the Emirates on Monday.

He said: “We know we have to win maybe just one more game.

“But if we can’t win the next one, we just have to keep going.

“I will not put us under pressure.

“We just need to stay calm and focus on the next game, then see what happens.

It is, obviously great news for Newcastle fans that he and Charnley are talking about the future now, but as we stated in an earlier article, Rafa putting all talks off until safety has been guaranteed is, in many ways applying added pressure to the survival race.

That said, once the three points Benitez craves have been pocketed, there will be no more excuses, and no more hiding from the barrage of questions coming his way until a definitive decision is made and announced.

Everyone associated with the club — including Rafa himself by all accounts — hopes for a positive conclusion to the saga that seems to have been going on for an eternity.

What do you think Newcastle fans? Is it good news that Rafa and Charnley are talking? Will he be able to convince him to stay? Or have you lost all trust in Charnley to get any deal done? Let us know…

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