Rafael Benitez feels a strong emotional attachment with Newcastle United, but insists the decision over whether to stay will not simply be made due to the rapport he has struck up with the club’s supporters.
Benitez’s three-year contract at St James’ Park has a relegation release clause, but the Spaniard has recently said he is considering staying at Newcastle to manage them in the second tier.
Newcastle’s fans were vociferous in their calls for Benitez to remain on Tyneside in Sunday’s final game of the Premier League season against Tottenham as the Championship-bound side romped to a 5-1 victory.
Goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic put Newcastle 2-0 to the good, although the latter was sent off for an aggressive challenge on Kyle Walker after Erik Lamela had halved Tottenham’s deficit.
But 10-man Newcastle ravaged Tottenham on the break, Wijnaldum netting a second from the penalty spot before Rolando Aarons and Daryl Janmaat completed the rout late on.
Asked by Sky Sports why Newcastle were not able to produce such a performance before they were relegated, Benitez replied: “It’s difficult, sometimes when you’re under pressure you don’t play at the level you can play.
“Without fear we wanted to give something back to the fans. We know the fans have been supporting the team in difficult circumstances and I’m really pleased for them, they needed to see a game like this and at least enjoy the last game of the season.
“We can enjoy [the win], it was a very good game, obviously the atmosphere has been fantastic. I have to say thank you because the fans have been amazing, I told the players thank you very much because they were working so hard in these 10 games, it was pity in the end we couldn’t stay up.
“When you have a lot of people behind you and you see the players working as they were working and everybody singing I think it’s very, very emotional. I knew before that it could be like this and now we have to wait and start talking and we will do in the future.”
He added: “I will talk with [managing director] Lee Charnley and after we will see where we are. I said I am quite open and really pleased with everything. Now it’s just to be sure we have to do what we have to do to be sure that we can go up.
“My heart is obviously telling me yes [to staying], it is a fantastic opportunity, fantastic atmosphere. Everything is so good that my heart is very clear but at the same time you have to use the brain, both things have to go together.
“I have the same feeling as the fans, they want a strong team for next season to be sure we can go up again. It will not be difficult to have similar ideas but we have to sit down and be sure that everything is fine.”
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