Rafa Benitez has pledged to stay at Newcastle United and work hard on the club’s bid for an immediate return to Premier League football.
Reports surfaced on Thursday that Benitez was considering his future on Tyneside after this season following a January transfer window which saw moves for his main targets – Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend and Everton’s James McCarthy – fail to materialise, and authority over player recruitment appear to return to the club’s chief scout Graham Carr.
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The pact that was in place when Benitez agreed to remain with the Magpies last summer was that he would have complete control in all football matters.
“I will not leave, I will not quit,” Benitez told BBC Newcastle.
“I want to get promoted with this team and to do well. I will put all my effort into that. I say thank you to the fans, I will continue giving everything to ensure the players, staff, and fans are pushing in the same direction.”
Although the heavy recruitment at the start of the season made promotion from the Championship almost appear assured, a spate of injuries to vital first-team members including Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic have left Benitez short.
The enterprising wing play of Townsend could have gone some way to addressing these attacking voids, but Benitez was apparently disappointed to discover a breakdown in talks over a loan fee for the England international, when he wanted a permanent deal.
“The window has finished, we have to concentrate on the future,” Benitez said. “We have a group of players who did very well in the first part of the season and we have to have confidence they will do well in the second part of the season.”
A midweek 2-2 home draw with Queens Park Rangers currently sees Newcastle in second spot, one point short of Brighton & Hove Albion and four above Reading. Sixth-placed Derby County visits St James’ Park on Saturday.