Date: 13th March 2019 at 7:00pm
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It’s been a long season for Newcastle. For much of it, relegation has seemed like a realistic conclusion to the campaign, whilst the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Rafael Benitez’s long-term future has been a concern too. 

Fortunately, over the last few weeks, a good run of form has put us in a much better position in the English top flight, and now relegation is looking like a distant possibility, rather than a frighteningly realistic ending to the season.

And now, Newcastle expert Lee Ryder’s latest update on Rafa Benitez’s future should help to calm fears about his future. 

As per the Chronicle Live Q&A (Wednesday, 13:30), he said: ‘One of the key things he [Benitez] wanted sorting out was a “loan manager” to bring Newcastle into line with top clubs in Spain, Italy and Germany. A revamp at the Academy has started now so we can consider ourselves a step closer to Benitez staying. Although, there is still a long way to go and other things that need to happen before we see him put pen to paper.’

Of course, Ryder has been quick to temper expectations. It’s important to recognise that Benitez is far from certain to stay, and until he’s signed on the dotted line, fans should remain cautious.

However, the very fact that Newcastle are listening to the manager’s demands implies that they want him to stay, and certainly, most fans will be hoping for exactly that.

Ryder has been pretty coy on the future of Benitez all season, but this is arguably his most optimistic message yet. As he says, we’re one step closer to hanging on to him, and in comparison to how pessimistic we were feeling a few months ago – even a single step forward is fantastic news.

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