Newcastle owner Ashley eager for Benitez to stay


Mike Ashley has made it clear he wants Rafa Benitez to stay as Newcastle United manager, and has promised the Spaniard "every penny generated by the club" will be available for him to spend on players.

However, he has endured an underwhelming debut season in Premier League as he has managed only 11 goals in 30 league appearances for Chelsea.

The Italian, who insists he is still in the dark about his future, saw the Blues produce one of their worst displays of the season and admits the campaign has been a massive letdown.

But he protested otherwise, as he added: 'I am committed to this club.

Conte had benefited from Emenalo, a calm voice in an emotional boardroom, as a conduit between coaching staff and club hierarchy, and, while the head coach's frustrations over recruitment policy over the summer had been perceived as criticisms of the technical director, the tensions had eased in their relationship by the time of his departure.

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As for Hazard, Chelsea are ready to hand the 27-year-old a new £300,000-a-week deal - but it would appear that one condition has to be met first before that can happen.

Olivier Giroud nearly scored a spectacular goal to rival his scorpion kick for Arsenal against Crystal Palace last season, but otherwise contributed little, while Tiemoue Bakayoko remains worryingly cumbersome, his poor clearance leading to Newcastle's game-clinching second goal. Chelsea will need their talisman at his very best on Sunday if they have any chance at pipping Liverpool to 4th place.

Chelsea, though, can not accept anything less than a win, and even that may not be enough.

Although 12/18 (67%) of Chelsea's away days have paid-out for Over 2.5 Goals hunters, four of their most recent six Premier League matches have fallen below the line, and with Newcastle expected to sit deep and frustrate, backing Under 2.5 Goals at [1.90] appeals.

We were at the Amex Stadium earlier in the season when Liverpool beat Chris Hughton's side 5-1. Regardless of this, they should have enough quality to secure a victory which could prove crucial to their top four finish.

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The Cup represents both clubs' only chance of silverware this season, but Conte once again brushed aside mounting rumours that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will dispense with his services at the end of the season.

"I'm a Newcastle player, I'm happy here, I'm the captain and things are going really well".

It left last year's champions with only Saturday's FA Cup final against Manchester United to redeem a season in which they have finished a poor fifth.

"This is my first season not to win a title at either Juventus or Chelsea".

"Newcastle showed a great desire and will to take all three points and finish the season in the best possible way".

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Chelsea captain Gary Cahill believes the squad must now "self-reflect" and brush the disappointing end to the Premier League season "under the carpet" as they prepare for the FA Cup final.