Benitez delivers end-of-season ultimatum to Ashley

Newcastle United's English defender Jamaal Lascelles clears from Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne during the English Premier League football match between

One ray of sunshine though has threatened to banish the rainy days that surrounded us under Ashley and even with the danger of storm clouds looming in the distance, these have been kept at bay by the growing proof that Rafa Benitez's project does look like it has the potential to bear fruit.

Supporters chanted "Rafa Benitez, we want you to stay" during the game.

"This group of players have done so well, so it would be easy to say, "Okay, well you are already in the top ten".

It's not often a player of Lascelles age and talent to be available at such a reasonable price, and if he continues to perform the way he did this season, that price will only skyrocket.

"It is clear what we need", said Benitez. For the wonderful support and your presence every single game.

But there is fear over Benitez's future at St. James' Park as his relationship with owner Mike Ashley often brought into question. "Whoever he decides to go for, it's up to him and congratulations to the players who do go".

'They made me some offers to stay here for a few more years, plus I have to manage my family: if I chose to go to Newcastle and stay there, even in the Championship, it's also because of my family.

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He has been an on-field leader at Newcastle for some time, with Rafa Benitez having passed him the armband, and while others may be keen to buy into his many qualities, the Nottingham Forest academy graduate is turning a deaf ear to the exit talk.

"On many occasions throughout the season, they have been described as a Championship side, which I personally consider to be derogatory".

"Finally, I would like to thank the fans for their unrivalled support of Rafa and the team throughout the season".

This shouldn't detract from the incredible job Benitez has done in leading Newcastle to a top half of the table place, with famous home victories over Manchester United and Arsenal being the highlights of a great season.

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

"For sure, we didn't play a good game, but from the start, Newcastle outplayed us in many aspects", said Conte.

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