Martin Hardy thinks he's staying.
Rafa Benitez is set to stay at Newcastle next season, with the club on the brink of an immediate return to the Premier League.
Newcastle moved 10 points clear of third-placed Huddersfield at the top of the Championship table with their 2-1 victory at St James’ Park yesterday, with just seven games left in the campaign.
Benitez will be handed the funds to strengthen his squad in the summer and looks set to retain the same level of control he enjoyed following relegation, when he was allowed to rebuild the first team squad.
The move will be enough to convince the 56-year-old that he can build on the success he has enjoyed in his first full season at the club, thus ending the interest of West Ham, who lost again yesterday at Hull.
Benitez has told friends he is happy at St James’ Park, feels wanted and believes the club can grow into one capable of challenging for a European place over time, if the correct structure is in place.
The Spaniard had been undermined in the January transfer window, when moves for Andros Townsend and James McCarthy were blocked. The former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Valencia manager believed he would be given the finances to continue rebuilding the side, following relegation last summer, after raising £30 million in his transfer dealings.
However, increased involvement from the chief scout Graham Carr and the Newcastle owner Mike Ashley led to major concerns about whether Benitez would see out the remaining two years of the three-year deal he signed last summer.
The Spaniard was deeply unhappy at the unforeseen change in control at the top of the club. Previously he had been given the final say on transfers, along with the managing director Lee Charnley.
That provoked suggestion he would leave at the end of the season and he refused to commit beyond this campaign when he was asked at the start of February.
However, he is set to regain the control that proved successful last summer, when Newcastle overhauled their dressing room, and raised almost £90 million through the sale of players, including £30 million for Moussa Sissoko and £25 million for Georginio Wijnaldum and spent near to £60 million to fashion a squad that now looks set for promotion.