When asked whether Merino would still be a Magpies player next season, Benitez replied, as quoted by the Gazette: "I think that he was unlucky with that injury and also Jonjo and Diame were playing much better".
Two years ago, Benitez admitted that the support of the St James' Park faithful played a major role in his decision not to walk away in the wake of relegation.
Antonio Conte, in what may have been his last game as Chelsea boss in the Premier League, decided to make a number of changes for the clash with the Magpies, with the Italian deciding to make a total of eight from their disappointing draw with Huddersfield Town during the week. The Toon Army may have felt that they needed something special to show their manager what this all means to them, and Wor Flags succeeded with an fantastic display prior to kick-off. With the win Rafael Benitez men finished the season in the first half of the table in 10th place while Chelsea will have to make do with Europa League football as their 70 points haul could only help them to a 5th place finish.
"We were talking about that before the game", said Benitez.
"We did it against Tottenham, although it was not enough, and we did it again (against Chelsea)".
"It was a flawless day for the fans and the players".
A self-titled big club paradoxically without a major trophy since 1969, it is the natural next step for Benitez to take.
"I think we have to do something more to make sure the group is stronger and more competitive".
Benítez has a year left to run on his existing deal, and captain Lascelles believes keeping the manager on board should be the number one priority for the club. "We just try to do the right things at the right time".
"The fans have ambitions and we have ambitions, and we have to know if everybody has the same feelings too". The potential is there.
Farah: What Wenger did for Arsenal is incredible
Yet when the prospect of managing another Premier League club against Arsenal was raised, Wenger said that scenario was unlikely. Wenger announced he would be leaving Arsenal after 22 years last month, with tributes pouring in ever since.
North Korean Waitresses Were Forced to 'Defect'
JTBC did not reveal the names of the three women and also blurred their faces, as well as Heo's, to protect their identities. As well as serving North Korean food, restaurant workers often dance in traditional costume and sing North Korean songs.
Valve activates Bluetooth on Steam Controller
Now it has revealed a crucial piece of that puzzle by announcing Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support for its Steam Controller . There are a few reasons why you'd want to use it in BLE mode, not included connecting to your phone.