Rafael Benitez believes there is a “good chance” he will remain at Newcastle despite their relegation after opening preliminary talks with the club’s hierarchy and expects a final decision to be made within a fortnight.
The popular Spaniard succeeded Steve McClaren as manager on Tyneside for the final 10 Premier League games of the season, but even his intervention failed to stop the Magpies from dropping into the Championship for the second time in seven years.
Benitez had a break clause inserted into his three-year contract in the event of Newcastle’s demotion, and even though he has been linked with a host of top-flight clubs, the former Liverpool and Chelsea boss has revealed he may yet remain at St James’ Park.
Benitez confirmed he held encouraging discussions with Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley on Thursday and although he admits there are some hurdles to overcome he had heartening words for the club’s fans.
Speaking for the first time since their relegation was confirmed in midweek, Benitez said: “We want a strong team to be promoted to the Premier League again as soon as possible and that is the situation now.
“We have to talk, we will have more meetings and then we will see what happens.
“What we said in this meeting is ‘we will have more meetings’ so it was very positive in terms of the things we were discussing and I can say to the fans that we will continue.
“I am quite happy with everything here. Can we improve things? Can we change some things? Then it will be easier for me to make a decision. Obviously these conversations are with this idea.
“We are working as professionals and we are talking and I think in a couple of weeks maximum, maybe, we will have an idea.
“But if I am here and I am discussing these things it’s because in my head it’s a chance, it’s a good chance.”
Benitez admitted he has been overwhelmed with the support he has received since arriving in the north east and hopes his team can reward the fans by bowing out of the top flight with a bang when Tottenham visit on Sunday.
He said: “I’m really happy with the reaction of the fans. I’m really impressed with them. That’s it. Tomorrow they will show their appreciation and we will try to do well for them.
“That is the reason why I’m sitting here and considering the future in a very positive way and an open mind. We have to wait until this conversation next week.”
Benitez played down reports linking him with a move to Everton, adding: “I have seen the news but I haven’t talked with anyone. At the moment my priority is Tottenham tomorrow and then after the meetings that I will have, and hopefully everything will be fine.
“We’ll see what happens. What happens in football you never know.”
Newcastle are unbeaten in five games but Sunderland’s victory over Everton in midweek condemned them to the second tier.
Benitez said: “We are really disappointed because we were working so hard, the staff and the players. We knew that we could stay up. We needed a bit of time, a bit of luck, a little bit of something different in some games. Then everything could have been different.
“We have to think about what we have to do to be here in the Premier League as soon as possible.”