Belfast Telegraph

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez already planning for the future

Rafael Benitez will sit down with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley this week hoping to hear that both men share the same ambition for the club as it heads back into the Premier League.

The Magpies, who trailed Brighton by seven points with just three games remaining, clinched the Sky Bet Championship title on Sunday afternoon when the Seagulls' 1-1 draw at Aston Villa coupled with their own 3-0 victory against Barnsley brought joy to St James' Park.

Benitez, who was unable to halt the club's slide out of the top flight 12 months ago, has fulfilled his remit to restore Newcastle to the big time, but he will now seek assurances from Ashley over a fresh rebuilding programme.

Speaking on an emotional day on Tyneside when goals from Ayoze Perez, Chancel Mbemba and substitute Dwight Gayle did the damage, he said: "I will meet him next week, but it's always important for him, for us, to feel the love of the fans and the passion in the stadium.

"I have already an idea, I think he has an idea. Now we have to put both ideas together and hopefully it will be fine this week.

"We will be in contact, but the main thing is to be sure that we both share the same ambition about how to improve, how to be competitive and how to do the right things for everyone."

Benitez has established himself as a folk hero on Tyneside and despite listing Champions League glory with Liverpool and LaLiga success at Valencia among his honours, he admitted his latest achievement was also special.

Asked where it ranked, he said: "It's difficult to say because [I have been a manager for] so many years, but then you appreciate it more when you are getting older and then you feel the emotion around the city, around the stadium, everywhere.

"Sometimes you can win with a very good team and it seems that it's easy, but in this case when you play 46 games in a very difficult season after going down...

"We were talking about the stats for teams which have been relegated, so to do it and to do it in style today and the way that we did during the whole season, that is really, really emotional and I am really proud of that.

"The atmosphere today means a lot. If we want to be stronger in the future, it is really important to have everybody together united."

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