Benitez vows to fight on despite transfer woes

LONDON (AFP) – Rafael Benitez has pledged not to quit as manager of Newcastle United despite his mounting frustration over the club’s failure to back him in the transfer market.

Since guiding Newcastle into the top flight by winning the second-tier Championship last season, Benitez has been engaged in a transfer struggle with owner Mike Ashley.

Benitez believes Ashley needs to loosen the purse strings to ensure Newcastle strengthen their squad enough to avoid a relegation battle.

But instead Newcastle have missed out on several of Benitez’s main transfer targets, leaving the Magpies boss to admit his frustration in a television interview earlier this week.

However, on the eve of the new Premier League season, which kicks off for Newcastle against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, Benitez insisted he remains committed to the Tyneside club.

“Obviously, I said how I feel during this summer, but at the same time, I said that my commitment is 100 per cent with this team, this club in terms of trying to win from the first game until the last one,” he said on Friday.

“My ambition is to do well in every single game to get three points and see where we are in the table.

“I am not saying I am really pleased with everything because it’s not true, but I am not saying that I will not do my best to be as high as possible in the table.”

Benitez hopes Newcastle can seal deals for Chelsea wing-back Kenedy and Arsenal striker Lucas Perez before the transfer window closes at the end of August.

But Benitez, who has so far spent £30 million on five new players, won’t be encouraged to hear Ashley make it clear he has no intention of matching the spending of mega-rich clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

“I don’t have that ability to write a cheque for £200 million. I don’t have it, it’s very simple. I would have to sell the Sports Direct (his company) shares to fund that,” Ashley told Sky Sports.

“People outside of football looking in and the way sometimes it’s portrayed is that those sort of wealth terms are in the bank.

“I have to make it clear, I am nowhere near wealthy enough in football now to compete with the likes of Man City, where basically it is a wealthy individual taking on what is the equivalent of countries. I cannot and I will not.”