Rafael Benitez has hinted he is ready to make a decision on his Newcastle future in the next fortnight – and insists the passion of the club’s supporters could impact his choice.
It was revealed earlier this week that Benitez had met with Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley following the club’s relegation from the Premier League and held initial talks over his future at St James’ Park.
It was confirmed earlier this year that the three-year contract Benitez signed in March does include a release clause and he could exercise the option after failing to keep Newcastle in the top-flight.
MORE ON NEWCASTLE
When asked about whether he had made a decision on his future, Benitez said: “No, not really. But we want a strong team to be promoted to the Premier League again as soon as possible and that is the situation now.
“We have to talk, we will have more meetings and then we will see what happens.
“What we said in this meeting is ‘we will have more meetings’ so it was very positive in terms of the things we were discussing and I can say to the fans that we will continue.
“I am quite happy with everything here. Can we improve things? Can we change some things? Then it will be easier for me to make a decision. Obviously these conversations are with this idea.
“We are working as professionals and we are talking and I think in a couple of weeks maximum, maybe, we will have an idea.
“But if I am here and I am discussing these things it’s because in my head it’s a chance, it’s a good chance.”
Benitez on Toom Army
Benitez admitted he has been overwhelmed with the support he has received since arriving in the north east and hopes his team can reward the fans by bowing out of the top flight with a bang when Tottenham visit on Sunday.
He said: “I’m really happy with the reaction of the fans. I’m really impressed with them. That’s it. Tomorrow they will show their appreciation and we will try to do well for them.
“That is the reason why I’m sitting here and considering the future in a very positive way and an open mind. We have to wait until this conversation next week.”
Benitez played down reports linking him with a move to Everton, adding: “I have seen the news but I haven’t talked with anyone. At the moment my priority is Tottenham tomorrow and then after the meetings that I will have, and hopefully everything will be fine.
“We’ll see what happens. What happens in football you never know.”
Which of this season’s relegated sides will return to the Premier League first?
Newcastle are unbeaten in five games but Sunderland’s victory over Everton in midweek condemned them to the second tier.
Benitez said: “We are really disappointed because we were working so hard, the staff and the players. We knew that we could stay up. We needed a bit of time, a bit of luck, a little bit of something different in some games. Then everything could have been different.
“We have to think about what we have to do to be here in the Premier League as soon as possible.”