Belfast Telegraph

I'd love another crack at Europe's top tier: Benitez


Burning desire: Rafa Benitez
Burning desire: Rafa Benitez

By Damian Spellman

Rafael Benitez plans to work until he is 70 and is desperate for another tilt at the Champions League.

As the 59-year-old waits for answers from the Newcastle hierarchy over a contract extension both are keen to agree, but which seems no closer to being signed, he is keen to compete for the game's biggest prizes once again.

Whether that comes at St James' Park, where his stay of more than three years is set to end on June 30, remains to be seen with managing director Lee Charnley insisting - as the club's latest accounts were published on Thursday - that they would continue to live within their means.

Asked how long he planned to carry on, Benitez said: "Eleven years. Eleven years as a manager, that's fine. You can see Roy Hodgson is still there.

"I like to manage teams, I like to coach players, so I'm happy with that. We are forward-thinking. My staff, they are young people and we are always thinking about how to improve things.

"We had a meeting and we were talking about cameras for the training ground, to record from different points and then have the possibility to watch from different angles, so we are always trying to use the technology, we are trying to be up-to-date, all these things."

Benitez presented Charnley, and by extension owner Mike Ashley, with his blueprint for the Magpies' future, which includes improvements to the club's training base and greater autonomy over recruitment, three weeks ago.

Talks are continuing but there has been little movement since and fans who have taken the former Real Madrid boss to their hearts are fearing the worst.

The Spaniard, whose side host Southampton tonight, insists he does not expect to have £200m to spend but he is reluctant to commit his future to a club battling for Premier League survival.

Benitez won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, and asked how he would feel if he was told he would never be involved in the competition again, he replied: "I want to compete for trophies and the best is the Champions League, so I would like to have the possibility in the next 11 years to win the Champions League."

Belfast Telegraph


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