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Newcastle boss Benitez ignoring takeover speculation

Credit: PA

Rafael Benitez has insisted he is simply getting on with his job as speculation mounts over a takeover at Newcastle.

News that PCP Capital Partners, headed by Amanda Staveley, had tabled a formal bid for the club sparked an excited frenzy on Tyneside earlier in the week, although Benitez is remaining philosophical as he awaits developments.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Watford at St James' Park, he said: "For me, I have to prepare the team to make sure we're ready. But in terms of news, whether it has been done or rejected it doesn't affect us and we're not talking about it.

"The players aren't talking about it. I was talking to three players today, but we were talking about last night's Europa League. We don't talk about that (the takeover), we concentrate on the things we can affect with the performance of the team. We can't change anything."

Fans desperate to see current owner Mike Ashley relinquish control of the club after more than a decade are hoping he is granted his wish by completing a sale before Christmas, although that is looking increasingly unlikely with PCP's initial offer having come nowhere near to meeting his requirements.

They are keeping their fingers crossed that a new regime would invest significantly in the January transfer window, although Benitez has issued a warning that spending could be limited whoever occupies the St James' hot-seat.

He said: "It still doesn't change too much, so you have to look for good players if they're available - and in January, that's difficult. The last thing you ask about is the price.

"If we have a change in ownership, we don't know if we will have money or not because the Financial Fair Play rules - they don't allow you to spend too much money.

"We're just looking for good players, better players than we already have or to fix positions we need to fix."

Newcastle could face Swansea trip without Benitez

Newcastle boss Benitez had surgery during the international break. Credit: PA

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez will not hold his usual pre-match press conference on Friday after undergoing surgery during the international break.

Benitez went into hospital for a procedure to address an infection resulting from a hernia operation he had two years ago.

As a result, the 57-year-old Spaniard has been absent from the training pitch this week and fitness coach Francisco de Miguel Moreno will take over his media duties ahead of Sunday's Premier League game against Swansea.

It remains to be seen whether Benitez will be able to make the trip to south Wales, although he is keen to take his place in the dugout as the Magpies aim to build on their first win of the season against West Ham before the international break.

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.

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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."

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