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Rafael Benitez close to signing Newcastle contract

Rafael Benitez is believed to be close to agreeing a deal to remain as Newcastle manager.

Benitez is ready to manage Newcastle in the Championship. Credit: PA

Discussions which began after the club's relegation from the Premier League on May 11 are believed to have proved fruitful.

Hopes are high around St James' Park that a formal agreement with the 56-year-old has been reached.

Some supporters had grown anxious at the delay confirming Benitez's continued presence or otherwise. Sources close to the talks insisted there was nothing sinister in the protracted nature of the negotiations, which were always expected to last weeks rather than days.


It will be tough to leave Newcastle United - Benitez

Rafael Benitez says he's Credit: PA

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez admitted it would be tough for him to leave the club following the final-day 5-1 Premier League win over Tottenham.

Benitez's name was chanted throughout the game as his side produced one of their best performances of the season despite being reduced to 10 men midway through the second half, consigning Spurs to third place in the process.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley watched the game from the directors' box for the first time this year and then held talks with the Spaniard after the final whistle with a number of other big clubs already being linked with a move for Benitez.

The former Real Madrid boss admitted his rapturous reception would make it harder for him to decide to walk away as he continues to consider his options.

I was expecting the fans to get behind the team and support me but it has been amazing. I was open to talk and now I am more open to talk.

It is not easy to leave a club like this and I will talk and analyse and try to do the best for me and the best for Newcastle United. It has got to be the best for both.

We are really disappointed because we couldn't stay up, but really happy that we gave the fans something to enjoy today. Since I've been here in terms of effort and hard work you can say nothing (negative) about these players.

– Rafa Benitez

Newcastle boss brushes off Sunderland mind games

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has brushed aside Sam Allardyce's suggestion that Crystal Palace could roll over at St James' Park on Saturday.

Benitez is not interested in mind games. Credit: Reuters

The Sunderland manager, whose side currently lead the Magpies in the race for Premier League safety by a single point, said on Thursday that if he were a betting man, he would put his money on Newcastle to beat the Eagles as the Palace players would have been "on the pop" since reaching the FA Cup final.

However, Benitez refused to be drawn into a debate as he prepared for yet another must-win game.

He said: "I don't bet. Obviously I agree we have to win. In my experience, it's the players who make the difference, not the managers. I can prepare for the game, but to talk about mind games, I don't take too much notice."

However, the Spaniard did acknowledge that some of Alan Pardew's players may have the cup final at the back of their minds.

He said: "Everybody knows what it means to play in that final. When you are there, you have to be careful. I don't see any player saying 'I don't care about the final'. I am sure they will be thinking about it.

"It's normal when you're in the final. Players are thinking if they pick up an injury, they can't play, so it's in the back of their heads."

Benitez urges Newcastle players to rediscover passion

Benitez faces a tough task to keep Newcastle in the Premier League. Credit: PA

Rafael Benitez has challenged Newcastle to rediscover their "character and passion" or face slipping to Premier League relegation with a whimper.

Comical defending and a limp, frozen performance from Newcastle gifted Southampton an easy 3-1 league win at St Mary's on Saturday.

Shane Long, Graziano Pelle and Victor Wanyama struck all too easily for Southampton, consigning Newcastle to a sixth defeat in a seven-match winless run.

Manager Benitez implored Newcastle's fuming fans to back his beleaguered side ahead of Saturday's critical home clash with Swansea, demanding a victory to keep the survival fight alive.

"Character and passion, and positive play - that's the very least of what is expected every game, for 90 minutes," said Benitez.

"But it is clear that that was very much lacking in the first half.

"That's not a situation that we can have away from home, so we have to make changes to how we'll play away from home.

"Before that we'll have to prepare for the next home game, and we just hope we can keep the fans behind us.

"It's very clear that we can say nothing to our fans.

"They come here to see the team fighting and winning and we didn't do that in the first half. So you have to understand their feelings.

"But we'll need support from the fans, we need them behind us to drive us on, to get a result against Swansea."


Benitez 'enthusiastic' and 'happy' about Real Madrid

Less than 24 hours after overseeing his final game in charge of Napoli, Rafael Benitez landed in Madrid on Monday morning.

Benitez is expected to take over at Real Madrid this week. Credit: PA

The 55 year old, whose two-year stint with Napoli ended with a 4-2 home defeat to Lazio on Sunday, is expected to be named as the new Real Madrid coach this week.

Madrid-born Benitez has been strongly linked with Real this summer, the club where he started his coaching career.

"I am enthusiastic and happy," Benitez said to the Spanish press upon his arrival in the capital. "Although there are things that still need to be discussed."

Real sacked coach Carlo Ancelotti last week following a trophy-less season.

Napoli deny Benitez will leave for Real Madrid

Rafa Benitez is favourite to be Real Madrid's new head coach. Credit: Serg Glovny/Zuma Press/PA

Napoli insist a hastily-scheduled press conference has not been organised to confirm the departure of head coach Rafael Benitez for Real Madrid.

The Serie A club have called a briefing with club president Aurelio De Laurentiis and head coach Benitez for Thursday afternoon, amid growing speculation the Spaniard will replace Carlo Ancelotti at Real.

A statement published on read: "The club wishes to state that tomorrow's press conference concerns only footballing matters related to Napoli and not the future of Benitez.

"Therefore, no questions pertaining to the future of the Azzurri coach will be accepted."

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