Rafael Benitez will meet with Mike Ashley this week to discuss how they can work together to continue the restoration of Newcastle United.
Goals from Ayoze Perez, Chancel Mbemba and Dwight Gayle gave the Magpies a 3-0 win over Barnsley at St James Park on Sunday afternoon, to bring down the curtain on the Championship season. And with Brighton & Hove Albion held to a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on the same day, the three points against the Tykes was enough for Benitez’s side to be crowned second-tier champions.
The Spaniard, who led Liverpool to UEFA Champions League glory in 2005, remains one of the most highly-regarded coaches in world football. That he stayed with Newcastle following their relegation from the Premier League last season is to his credit, and his reputation has been enhanced further having been able to take them back to the top-flight at the first time of asking.
Now that the celebrations on Tyneside will be dying down, Benitez will begin his preparations for next season. There are sure to be some tense conversations in the coming weeks with Ashley, the club owner, in relation to how much money will be set aside for transfers in the summer. But so far, all the signs indicate that the 57-year-old is prepared to continue his fine work in the North East.
“I will meet him next week,” Benitez said in the aftermath of the win against Barnsley. “I have already an idea; I think he has an idea. Now we have to put both ideas together and hopefully it will be fine this week. We will be in contact, but the main thing is to be sure that we both share the same ambition about how to improve, how to be competitive and how to do the right things.”
It is inevitable that Newcastle will be linked with a host of players from now until the transfer window closes, some four months from now. In recent days it has been suggested that Benitez has sent scouts to watch Oghenekaro Etebo, the 21-year-old Nigerian international, play for Portuguese side Feirense, and Everton’s James McCarthy is another reported midfield target.