RAFAEL BENITEZ has warned the Newcastle hierarchy he is prepared to quit if his demands are not met – and claims he would rather “stay and home and wait” for another job offer rather than sign a new contract with the Magpies if he is not convinced the club can compete in the top half of the table.

Having celebrated his 59th birthday last week, Benitez has revealed that he intends to spend another decade in frontline management, but there are now huge doubts about whether he will still be in charge of Newcastle next season.

He has become increasingly frustrated at the lack of dialogue from Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley in the last month, and his worries about a lack of financial support are unlikely to have been assuaged by Thursday’s publication of Newcastle’s most recent accounts.

With Ashley unwilling to spend any more of his own money as he continues to look to sell the club, Benitez is likely to have around £100m to spend over the course of the next two years. Given that Wolves have just spent £30m on a single centre-forward, that is unlikely to convince him that he will be able to take Newcastle forward and ensure they avoid another relegation battle next season.

As well as seeking assurances about the amount of money that will be available to him, Benitez is also demanding cast-iron guarantees that he will be able to dictate the type of player that is signed. If those guarantees are not forthcoming, he is prepared to walk away when his contract expires at the end of next month.

“What I want is to get a job where I can enjoy competing,” said Benitez. “If I cannot, maybe I have to stay at home and wait, I don’t know. But at the moment, my idea is to have a team that can compete.

“When I decided to stay here in the Championship, it was to compete to go back to the Premier League and try to be in the top ten, and after, try to go to Europe. That was my idea in the first year, so okay, we cannot now, but we will try. Now, we are in a situation where we have to decide if we want to achieve something more.

“I have been here for more than three years, and I was clear from day one. I also think it is what the fans are looking for.

“We need a team that can compete in the Premier League and not just survive in the Premier League. I think there are ways we can do that, but we have to make sure we are of the same opinion. That is it.

“I am not saying anything special or strange. It is just a case of saying, ‘Okay, what is our idea? This one. Can we go together? Fine. Perfect.’

“But it has to be something that makes sure I, the fans and everybody here are sure we can compete.

“It is not a case of thinking, ‘Maybe we can finish tenth or maybe we can finish 17th’. It has to be a team that when you play against anyone, you are sure you can win. Not that a draw will be a great result.”

Having entered his final year as a 50-something, Benitez has been pondering his future in the last few weeks. Having admired the longevity of Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Robson, the Spaniard sees no reason why he cannot continue to manage into his 70s.

However, he does not want to spend the next decade devoid of ambition, and is hopeful of a return to the Champions League before he retires. On the evidence of this week’s press briefings from Charnley, such a lofty dream is unlikely to be realised at an Ashley-led Newcastle.

“I was talking to a friend, and I said I would like to do 11 more years,” said Benitez. “Eleven more years as a manager, that’s fine. Roy Hodgson is in his 70s, and you can see that he is still there.

“I like to manage teams. I like to coach players, so I’m happy with that. I always say that we are forward-thinking. My staff, they are young people and we are always thinking about how to improve things.

“But because I have come from the Real Madrid academy, we have a winning mentality. We want to win. For me, to draw games…

“I like to win, and I want to compete for trophies. The best trophy is the Champions League, so in the next 11 years, I would like to have the possibility to win the Champions League.”

Whatever happens in the future, Benitez is adamant he will not allow his focus to waver in the next four matches. Cardiff’s midweek win at Brighton changed the picture at the foot of the table, and means Newcastle host Southampton today knowing they still need at least one more win before they can begin to feel safe.

Like Benitez, a number of Newcastle’s players face an uncertain future, but their manager is confident they will keep their eye on the ball even though their time on Tyneside might be coming to an end.

“I’m sure some of the players want to do well to stay here in the Premier League in a good position,” said Benitez, who insists Mo Diame’s contractual situation does not prevent him selecting him in his starting line-up.

“Some, if they’re finishing contracts or on loan, they’ll say, ‘If I play well, someone will see and it will be easier to get another contract at another club’. We’re professionals, and we want to do well.”