I want Newcastle to be able to compete, says Benitez

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Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez does not want another relegation battle (Richard Sellers/PA)

Rafael Benitez has told Newcastle he is not their man if all they want to do is finish 15th in the Premier League.

The 59-year-old Spaniard’s representatives are currently locked in negotiations with the Magpies’ hierarchy over a contract extension, with his current deal due to expire on June 30.

He wants to stay at St James’ Park and they are keen to retain his services after seeing him guarantee a third successive top-flight season with last Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Southampton.

However, he is keen to be able to challenge for the top half of the table and cup success, and is pleading for the investment he would need to be able to do that before signing on the dotted line.

Asked about his ambition for the club, Benitez, whose side travels to relegation-threatened Brighton on Saturday, said: “If we can do the right things we can compete. For what? If we can compete and then try to at least be close to winning something…

“But we have to do things right – I don’t say this is wrong, but right for my point of view. You can bring in another manager and then maybe he will be happy if they do well and they finish 15th.

“I would like to do something more, if it’s possible.”

Benitez’s tone was more conciliatory than it has been in recent weeks, perhaps a reflection of the sense of relief which has settled on Tyneside after the completion of a survival mission he said would be “a miracle” after a difficult start to the campaign.

He insists he has a realistic vision for the future and is not asking for the earth, just enough backing to be able to go about his job without the threat of relegation constantly hanging over him.

He said: “For me, if I can compete I would like to compete for something more. And if you cannot then you have to manage and be realistic.

“This club with the potential that we have, we can compete and we want to compete, or at least I want to compete, to go into any game and try to win something.

“We talk about the cups and, ‘Oh, we don’t compete in the cups…’ I want to compete and try to win trophies, but you cannot compete in the cups when you at the bottom of the table and you have a risk of two or three key players injured and then you don’t have the replacements.

“It’s just so simple to understand.”

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