Rafa Benitez says he doesn’t believe in miracles.
Benitez has guided Newcastle United up to 10th in the Premier League.
And the club, which takes on ninth-placed Everton tonight in what will be Benitez’s 100th game in charge, could finish even higher up the table.
A frustrated Benitez didn’t get the players he wanted last summer, and he had to settle for three loan signings in the January transfer window.
Imagine what Benitez could achieve given more time – and a lot more money.
United’s manager will sit down with owner Mike Ashley at the end of the season to discuss his and the club’s future.
And Benitez will stress the need for investment – as he can’t promise another “miracle”.
But will Ashley feel his reluctance to invest in the last three transfer windows has been vindicated by Benitez’s ability to get the most out of a limited team?
“I cannot do miracles every year, so then you have to have the tools to be sure that you can do your job,” said Benitez.
“I did it at Napoli, Inter or any team that we were around, Valencia, when we had the tools and we had the support, we could win.
“That’s it. I want to win. It’s true, I’m a young manager who wants to win.
“But, at the same time, I spend a lot of time coaching players and improving them, so I do not have any problem with young players, because they will grow and become much better players.
“But you need to win. So you need players with experience.
“When we had problems in the Championship, or in the Premier League with this squad, we needed experience.
“So it’s not just ‘oh, the manager is calm, he has vast experience’, because you don’t play.
“Players with experience can replicate that on the pitch and give confidence to those around them.
“And then you will be a better, more competitive team and as well you can try and win trophies.
“I’m not saying you have to win the league, because maybe you will need a lot of time to do that to go there.
“But to compete for the League Cup, the FA Cup, (you need) a team that you can change, rotate players and have a good eleven. That’s it.”
Benitez is waiting to hear from Ashley, who put the club up for sale late last year, but is yet to find a buyer.
Ashley could even take United off the market.
“I want to concentrate on games,” said Benitez. “At the same time, if they want to talk to my people they can talk. The main thing is to be sure we share the same ambition.”
Benitez – whose contract runs out at the end of next season – was sounded out a new deal in January.
At the time, Benitez’s priority was the club’s games – and incoming transfers.
Asked if he’d need to know Ashley’s plans before agreeing to a new deal, Benitez said: “Go to my first press conference when I was talking about football operations, business operations and projects and everything that I expect in any club.
“Because I like to win, I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to be capable of competing, and if you want to compete in the Premier League or this market, then you have to compete in everything.
“Then, if you have the tools to compete, you can win.
“I’d like to do that and at the same time, I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football.
“I have no problem with that, because I did it in the past.
“We have to be sure to have all the tools to compete and achieve what we want to achieve. Newcastle is a massive football club.”
Could Benitez take United into the top six with the right backing?
“If we are where we are, top 10 already, I don’t know if we will finish there, but it does not matter, still success this season,” said Benitez.
“If we can finish there, it will be massive. It means with the resources we had before, we can achieve that without more resources.”
Benitez will want assurances from Ashley that he will get those resources, but will he demand them in writing?
“It’s almost impossible for any owner to give you that,” said Benitez.
“But we must make sure we do the right things at the right time.”
Does Benitez trust Ashley to deliver on any promises?
“I think the answer is that Everton is the next game, and I have to prepare my team for that,” he said.