'On many occasions throughout the season they have been described as a Championship side, which I personally consider to be derogatory.
Ashley promised to back Benitez with "every penny generated by the club". The Magpies ended the season in tenth place, level on points with 11th and 12th placed Crystal Palace and Bournemouth respectively.
When asked whether Merino would still be a Magpies player next season, Benitez replied, as quoted by the Gazette: "I think that he was unlucky with that injury and also Jonjo and Diame were playing much better".
'Finally, I would like to thank the fans for their unrivalled support of Rafa and the team throughout the season'.
Benitez insists he would like to remain in his current role, but he does not want to spend next season battling in the bottom half of the table.
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Racing 92 may be the underdogs going into Saturday's European Champions Cup final against Leinster , but don't write them off. The Top 14 side have another opportunity after progess this year despite finishing second in their pool.
What would make Ferreyra and even more interesting signing is that he would be available on a free transfer, meaning that there is pretty much more risk for Newcastle to re-sign the title-winning forward.
He said: "It's clear after staying up - that was the main thing - you have the potential, you have everything to fight and to be in the top 10". Prior to the Huddersfield game [a 1-1 draw in midweek] we were in good form but that's not an excuse.
However, Benitez will not be penning a new deal until he has received some further clarification about his transfer budget for the summer, and the extent to which he will be allowed to spend the money as he sees fit. "We have to have confidence in this team". In this case, we are lucky enough to have [Isaac] Hayden, Mikel, Jonjo and more, because all of them can play.
"You need competition to approach any game you want to win".
The Dickensian rule of the Mike Ashley era has brought about many changes with those of us who have followed Newcastle before his time here suffering the most, whilst the younger fan was born into an era of fabricated blind loyalty with very little chance of building lasting foundations.