6 great sport channels
Football, Rugby, UFC, GAA
All free when you join eir Broadband
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has played down rumours linking him with the Spanish national team job.
Current La Roja boss Vicente del Bosque, who led Spain to the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships, is expected to leave his position after this summer’s European Championships.
The 65-year-old has already tipped Benitez as his replacement, but the former Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli and Real Madrid boss says he expects to keep Newcastle in the Premier League and see out his three-year deal at St James’ Park.
"I am the Newcastle manager and I want to be the Newcastle manager next year. I am really pleased here," the 55-year-old said.
"Always it is positive when people talk about you, and obviously with Spain, it is one of the (best) teams in the world now, but I am just concentrating and I would like to stay here for a while.
"Is it flattering? Yes, for sure. Del Bosque is my friend – I was his assistant when he was with the first team at Real Madrid. He knows how I work – but still, I think I will be here for a while."
Newcastle lie six points behind 17th-placed Norwich City in the Premier League table, following last weekend's 3-2 defeat to the Canaries at Carrow Road, and Benitez says he is working on building up his squad's confidence ahead of Saturday's visit to St Mary's to face Southampton.
"I think the quality is there, so the main thing for me is the mentality. The team has to improve mentally and has to approach the game with confidence," Benitez continued.
"I can say that every day, but the confidence comes with winning games or doing well on the pitch and getting points.
"I cannot say anything against the players. They are doing really well – every training session, they are giving everything and during the games, sometimes it is the anxiety or lack of concentration.
"But you have to improve, you have to learn and the only way is to keep practising every day. They are putting in the effort and hopefully, we can see a positive approach against Southampton and we can do well."