By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes
Rafael Benitez has had a change of heart in the last 48 hours about quitting Newcastle if they are relegated, according to a report.
The Spaniard signed a three-year Magpies contract in March but revealed there is a break clause in the deal that allows him to quit if the club are not in the Premier League.
According to the Daily Mail, Benitez has decided on a U-turn in the last few days after previously accepting he would leave if Newcastle went down.
It is said that the 56-year-old Spaniard is now ready to stay at St James’ Park even if the club are in the Championship next season.
Newcastle’s Premier League status is hanging by a thread after they fell behind Sunderland in race for top flight survival last weekend.
Benitez’s team drew 0-0 against already-relegated Aston Villa, while the Black Cats came from behind to beat Chelsea 3-2 and will retain their place in the Premier League if they beat Everton on Wednesday night.
It is reported Benitez will not make a final decision either way until Newcastle’s fate is known but the possibility that he could stay regardless of whether the north-east club stay up is a huge boost to supporters.
The Spaniard has established an instant rapport with supporters since replacing the unpopular Steve McClaren with 10 matches of the campaign remaining.
Following a few early teething problems, he has overseen a revival in which Newcastle are put together a five-match unbeaten run to prompt hope they can maintain their Premier League status.
Benitez is said to have had a change of heart after being swayed by the support he has felt from fans and is convinced that, with guarantees over budgets and control, he can eventually take the Magpies back into Europe.
The Mail report that the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid manager has this week been discussing his vision for the club’s training ground and wants work to begin on improving the cramped North Tyneside complex as soon as possible.
In other Newcastle news, Jack Colback has come up with a novel reason for the team’s failure to overcome Villa last Saturday.