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Rafa reveals there is a 'good chance' he will stay at Newcastle
Rafael Benitez believes there is a "good chance" he will remain at Newcastle despite their relegation after opening preliminary talks with the club's hierarchy and expects a final decision to be made within a fortnight.
The popular Spaniard succeeded Steve McClaren as manager on Tyneside for the final 10 Premier League games of the season but even his intervention failed to stop the Magpies from dropping into the Championship for the second time in seven years.
Benitez had a break clause inserted into his three-year contract in the event of Newcastle's demotion and, even though he has been linked with a host of top-flight clubs, the former Liverpool and Chelsea boss has revealed he may yet remain at St James' Park.
Benitez confirmed he held encouraging discussions with managing director Lee Charnley on Thursday and although he admits there are some hurdles to overcome he had heartening words for the club's fans.
Speaking for the first time since their relegation was confirmed in midweek, Benitez said: "We want a strong team to be promoted to the Premier League again as soon as possible and that is the situation now.
"We have to talk, we will have more meetings and then we will see what happens.
"What we said in this meeting is 'we will have more meetings' so it was very positive in terms of the things we were discussing and I can say to the fans that we will continue.
"I am quite happy with everything here. Can we improve things? Can we change some things? Then it will be easier for me to make a decision. Obviously these conversations are with this idea.
"We are working as professionals and we are talking and I think in a couple of weeks maximum, maybe, we will have an idea.
"But if I am here and I am discussing these things it's because in my head it's a chance, it's a good chance."
Benitez admitted he has been overwhelmed with the support he has received since arriving in the north east and hopes his team can reward the fans by bowing out of the top flight with a bang when Tottenham visit on Sunday.
He said: "I'm really happy with the reaction of the fans. I'm really impressed with them. That's it. Tomorrow they will show their appreciation and we will try to do well for them.
"That is the reason why I'm sitting here and considering the future in a very positive way and an open mind. We have to wait until this conversation next week."
Dutchman Vurnon Anita is the only new absentee for Newcastle so compatriot Daryl Janmaat may therefore fill the void at right-back following his recovery from groin and hand injuries.
Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham's fate in the Champions League next season will depend on the signings they make this summer.
Spurs have already secured automatic qualification for Europe's premier competition but they will need a deeper squad, having rotated heavily during this year's Europa League.
Borussia Dortmund took full advantage of Tottenham's weakened line-up, winning 5-1 on aggregate in the last 16, as Pochettino's men threw everything into their challenge for the title.
To compete fully on both fronts next season, Pochettino believes Spurs will have to strengthen further in the transfer window.
"We need to improve our squad - this is very clear," Pochettino said.
"To play in the Champions League, the Premier League and the cups, it's important to have a very good balance. We need to improve our squad.
"Replicating this season again is our challenge. For that, we need to improve our squad, to reduce the gap. The Champions League demands a lot of energy, more than the Europa League."
Tottenham are likely to need only a draw at Newcastle to finish second, which would represent the club's highest top-flight placing since 1963.
A point should also see them end them season above north London rivals Arsenal, who sit two points behind and host rock-bottom Aston Villa, for the first time since 1995.
It would tie up a remarkable campaign for Spurs, whose primary aim was to finish in the top four, although Pochettino says there are still lingering regrets from not winning the league.
"It's difficult now to explain the feelings because we feel disappointed after the Chelsea game because in this moment we put ourselves out of the race for the title," Pochettino, without banned duo Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele, said.
"Now to be second in the league is very important for the club. It's important to go straight away to the group stage of the Champions League because it was a target at the start of the season.
"We need to feel very happy and very proud. To finish second is a great achievement for the club."