According to Craig Hope of The Mail, Mike Ashley told players that he is going nowhere – claiming that no one has ‘come close’ to a takeover and that ‘plans were being made’ ahead of the January window, with him promising to take on a more ‘hands on’ role.
This all comes following his ‘dinner date’ with Benitez, his staff and the entire NUFC squad at a restaurant in Northumberland last night.
The piece also claims that he’s told Benitez and the squad that he will NOT be selling the club this season, with him hoping that this will lead to less distractions on and off the pitch.
It’s also stated that he admitted to making ‘mistakes’, however he claims that he will take on a more ‘hands on’ approach – with him now expected to attend more games; and even turn up at training sessions.
Craig Hopes’ big exclusive in The Mail today:
Ashley intervened after witnessing Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Leicester and sent a message to the dressing-room saying that he would be taking them out for dinner on Wednesday night.
And it was there that Ashley told Benitez and stars including captain Jamaal Lascelles, Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey that they should not be distracted by talk of the club being sold this season.
He claimed that no party has ever come close to meeting his valuation and that some had tried to steal the club at a knock-down price.
We understand he admitted to them that he has made mistakes but now plans to take a more hands-on approach and will be present at both matches and training sessions in the coming months.
Ashley, who was meeting Benitez face-to-face for only the fourth time in two-and-a-half years, also insisted to the players that the Spaniard was going nowhere and he needed him as manager for the team to be successful on the pitch.
To that end, he said that plans were being made for January – and it is this what would have been of interest to Benitez.