Rafael Benitez insists he is happy at Newcastle United and will not quit the Championship promotion contenders.
Reports on Thursday suggested the former Real Madrid coach is unhappy at Newcastle’s lack of activity in the January transfer window, in particular the failed attempt to re-sign former winger Andros Townsend from Crystal Palace, and was considering his long-term future at St James’ Park.
Newcastle go into Saturday’s home meeting with Derby County – led by Benitez’s predecessor Steve McClaren – a point behind leaders Brighton and Hove Albion but four ahead of third-placed Reading and the Spaniard insisted his focus remains on gaining promotion.
He told a news conference: “I have seen what you say in the media. I said the other day that it is very simple.
“We have finished the transfer window, we have a good squad and I have confidence in them.
“I will not quit, I will not leave, because I am happy.
“I am ready to fight for three points in the next game against Derby and to get promotion at the end of the season. It is so simple and so clear.”
Benitez was brought in by Newcastle’s controversial owner Mike Ashley in March but was unable to keep them in the Premier League after the Magpies won just three of their final 10 games.
The likes of Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum and Townsend subsequently left – revenue from player sales was around £86million – but Benitez was allowed to spend £57m on building a squad equipped for life in the Championship.
And, although he did not specifically address his plans beyond the end of the season, Benitez is hoping the club can make an immediate return to the top flight.
He added: “This club has made mistakes in the past and we can’t make them again.
“I am just trying to be sure that the players and the staff are pushing in the same direction.
“We need the fans. The experience for this club with the fans, owner, players and staff has sometimes been complicated and we need to makes sure everyone is pushing in the same direction, giving 100 per cent.
“We cannot be blaming each other now after the transfer window. We have to focus on three points from every game.”
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