LONDON (Reuters) - Keen as he may be for new owners to come in and give him money to spend in the January transfer window, Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez is focusing only on the matches in front of him.
Mike Ashley, the sports goods entrepreneur who took over the club 10 years ago, said this week that he now wants to sell the club.
Ashley has alienated supporters who wanted more money spent on the club’s return to the Premier League than the 16 million pounds net that Benitez was allowed in the close-season.
Reports in the last few days have identified at least one potential buyer, but Benitez had no details to offer when he spoke to reporters.
“I spoke to (managing director) Lee Charnley and he told me he had no news on that,” the Spaniard said.
“There is nothing I can do about that, so I will do my job.”
Instead his players are focused on their next game, he said.
“We have to focus on getting three points,” said Benitez. “I didn’t hear any player talking about the sale. We just talk about football and how to beat Crystal Palace.”
He did add, however, that Newcastle are a club with “massive potential” and that success on the pitch would make it easier to attract buyers.
Palace, who visit Newcastle on Saturday, are bottom of the table and only managed their first goals and points last weekend - eight games into the Premier League season.
Like their manager Roy Hodgson, the experienced Benitez has been around long enough not to take anything for granted.
”Crystal Palace create chances and have been unlucky with results,“ he said. ”It will be a difficult game. We have to try and put pressure on them.
“We have a good team with young players and can improve. We are close to the top but also the bottom.”
Victory over Palace could move them from ninth place into the top six.
Reporting by Steve Tongue; Editing by Hugh Lawson