Newcastle United took another massive step towards their Premier League safety on Sunday afternoon with victory over Arsenal – and now attentions can finally start to turn towards the future.
Goals from Ayoze Perez, a man whose personal form has mirrored the club’s hot streak, with three strikes in as many games, and Matt Ritchie helped secure the club’s fourth successive victory and in doing so broke the 40 point barrier – the so-called magic number for top flight survival.
While not mathematically safe, the Magpies now sit 13 points ahead of Southampton in the final of the relegation spots with five games left to play – or, in other terms, 15 points – meaning three more points would 100 per cent guarantee the club’s place among the elite next season.
So with that hurdle almost certainly behind the club, they can start to focus on the future – with Rafael Benitez’s contract likely to be near the top of the list.
The Spaniard’s current deal expires at the end of next season and fans are already concerned about losing their main man – but when pressed about his future on Tyneside, he gave a cryptic answer.
As quoted by the Chronicle, he said: “We will see. Obviously, it is too early because we have just finished but we have plenty of time to talk about ideas for the future.
“As I have said before, if everything is right, it is a good opportunity but everything has to be right.”
While his comments are purposefully non-committal, there are five words which make everything crystal clear; ‘everything has to be right.’
It does not take a trained linguist to figure out he is talking about everything being right above him at St James’ Park, with the future of owner Mike Ashley also up in the air as he seeks to sell the club.
Really, Benitez would rather not continue to work under the Sports DIrect supremo, for their ideals at the club do not match up – and it is likely the only reason he is considering remaining is on the hope Ashley leaves and more ambitious owners come in.
As such, if Newcastle are to keep the Spaniard, they need to get down to securing the exit of their current owner, a move which would delight both manager and fans, and point toward a better future.
In other Newcastle United news, the club are lining up a stunning move for a man voted best in the world.