Home News rafa benitez says he chose newcastle united in order to put together a competitive side to challenge for the top eight

Rafa Benitez says he chose Newcastle United in order to put together a competitive side to challenge for the top eight

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Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has just few months left on the three-year deal he signed upon replacing Steve McClaren in March 2016.

It remains to be seen if owner and club chairman Mike Ashley can convince him to sign an extension, but the former Liverpool boss has plans to spend at least 10 more years managing, mostly in England before returning to Spain.

Benitez couldn’t save the Magpies from going down three years ago despite helping them to end the season with a six-match unbeaten run, but they bounced back immediately with style by winning the 2016-17 English Championship.

The 58-year-old has told AS why he chose Newcastle, citing the club’s history and his desires to turn them into a top-eight side.

“What I wanted when I went back was to have a team that could be competitive. The teams higher up the table all had managers,” the former Inter Milan, Napoli, and Real Madrid boss told AS when asked why he chose Newcastle.

“Then this possibility came up, at a historic English side that was going through a bad spell on the pitch. Unfortunately when we arrived there were a lot of injuries and very little time.

“We couldn’t keep the team up. But we took a risk, which was to stay and take Newcastle back up from the Championship and then to put together a competitive side to challenge for the top eight… that was the idea.”

The lack of investment is frustrating Benitez at Saint James’ Park, and despite breaking the club’s transfer record to secure the signature of Paraguay international Miguel Almiron last month, Ashley will have to do more come summer if the Spaniard is to remain in charge heading into next season.

Newcastle are currently four points above the relegation zone after securing seven wins and seven draws in 27 games.

Benitez led them to a 10th-place finish last season – five points adrift eighth position and 11 points above safety – and it remains to be seen if a top-eight finish is possible this term, with 12 points currently between them and eight-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers.