Rafael Benitez has admitted it would be “a miracle” if he kept Newcastle in the Premier League for another season even if he has money to spend next month.
The Spaniard described last season’s 10th place finish as miraculous and insisted in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s 0-0 home draw with Fulham a repeat would take some doing given the fact that most of the clubs around the Magpies invested far more heavily on recruitment last summer.
However, he later went further, suggesting the imbalance was so great that simply keeping the club, which owner Mike Ashley had hoped to sell by Christmas, in the top flight this time around would be a major achievement.
Benitez said: “We have to be realistic and understand that we will be in the bottom half during the whole season.
“For me, it is almost clear and if we can be better than three teams, it will be another miracle.
“It was a miracle last year. People were thinking, ‘Oh, you finished 10th…’, but with a couple fewer wins, we could have been in the bottom five, so it was a miracle.
“If we do the same this year with teams spending even more money than last year, it will be a miracle.”
Questioned further on his bleak assessment of the situation just days before the January transfer window opens, Benitez pointed to promoted Fulham, who invested in excess of £100million on summer signings, as an example of the disparity he fears could cost the club top-flight status.
He said: “I know what is coming now and I know where we are. You can see the team – the team is trying a lot of things, but still it’s not enough sometimes to get the points, and it will be like that.
“If we are under pressure and we feel this pressure, we will not be better, we can make more mistakes.
“I’m trying to tell everyone, realise where we are, realise what we have to do and if we do well, fine, we can finish 10th or whatever.
“But if we think we have to beat these teams which have spent £100million, every one of them, during the summer, if we think we can beat them easily every game, no chance. We are wrong, 100 per cent.”