By support

23rd Dec, 2017 | 9:25am

Benitez takes thinly-veiled swipe at Ashley as he outlines his own deadline for Newcastle January signings

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez has said he hopes owner Mike Ashley is ‘clever enough’ to understand the need for investment as he declared the 20th of January as the deadline for new signings.

Benitez has constantly spoken this season about the failure of the club’s hierarchy to back him properly in the summer, and January is looking to be a crucial period if the Magpies are to stay in the Premier League.

With a takeover in the offing it is unclear how much money Benitez will have to spend next month, and the Spaniard has now taken a thinly-veiled swipe at Ashley about his understanding of the situation.

As quoted by the Daily Mail, Benitez said: “I hope that Mike Ashley is clever enough to understand… What I say is that it’s his team, his business, he wants the best for the team.

“We have seen the consequences of not doing business in the way we wanted to in August. So it’s obvious when we talk about January how important it is for the city, for every fan, for everyone at the club to stay in the Premier League.

“I have confidence that Mike Ashley will deliver what we need to stay in the Premier League before January 20 to be sure that we have time to work with the new players. If you go to January 30 it always very difficult to do business in the last day. You have to do business early and get players as soon as possible.”

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The Magpies made a solid start to the season despite losing their first two games, but a recent run of nine Premier League games without a win has left them languishing in the relegation zone on 15 points from their 18 games so far.

Benitez made six summer signings, but also missed out on several of his first-choice targets, and has been critical of the board’s failure to see through those deals.

The only real success of the summer was the signing of young Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mikel Merino, whose loan has now been converted into a permanent deal.

In other Newcastle United news, Benitez has revealed one first-team star has had to undergo surgery ahead of their clash with West Ham this weekend.

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