Rafael Benitez has reaffirmed his commitment to Newcastle, but has urged the Championship club not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Magpies fans woke on Friday morning to headlines suggesting the Spaniard could quit as manager at the end of the season after a disappointing January transfer window during which number one target Andros Townsend – or indeed anyone else – failed to arrive at St James’ Park to boost the club’s promotion push.
Benitez, who will send his side out against promotion rivals Derby on Saturday, promised that he is not about to depart, but called for a united front as he attempts to secure an immediate return to the Premier League.
He said: “I will not quit, I will not leave because I am happy or I am not happy. I am ready to fight and try to get three points in the next game and to be promoted at the end of the season, that’s it.
“It is so simple, so clear and because I have a compromise, especially with the fans, who have from the very beginning been pushing and helping me to enjoy my job.
“I am just trying to be sure that the players, the staff, everyone is pushing in the same direction, so we need our fans.
“The experience with this club has been sometimes quite complicated for the fans, the owner, the players, the staff, whatever, and we cannot afford to make the same mistakes, so we have to be sure that we push, everyone, in the same direction and every game, everybody available, everybody giving 100 per cent and that’s it.
“At the end of the season, I expect we will be promoted, so we will enjoy it and we will be happy, but we cannot be blaming each other now after the transfer window.”
Benitez was clearly frustrated not to have landed the players for which he had asked, and by an apparent change in the club’s transfer policy last month when his full control of the club’s football operations seemed to have been eroded with owner Mike Ashley having placed a hand on the tiller.
He said: “I said before we were expecting something could happen. It didn’t happen, but now still I have confidence in this team because we did so well in the first part of the season.
“You try to adjust things when you have injuries or you have some problems, but we couldn’t do it and now, it’s just don’t make the same mistake that this club has done in the past.
“I am not talking about the club making mistakes, I am talking about the club, the fans, the staff, everyone, the city. We have to realise that if we want to be stronger, we have to stick together.
“When the fans are behind the team, we are stronger. We can criticise players, we can criticise the owner, we can criticise the staff or the manager, but it doesn’t change anything.”