Rafael Benítez baffled but unbowed by dysfunctional setup at Newcastle United | Louise Taylor

Manager insists ‘we’ll do our best’ on return to Premier League, despite minimal transfer budget and a lack of communication from owner Mike Ashley

The mood inside the room had turned as gloomy as the dark clouds on view through the windows when someone attempted a joke. “It’s North Korea v the United States,” they said, deadpan. “Just without the nuclear weapons.”

It got a laugh, yet Mike Ashley v Rafael Benítez is a little bit different; less Kim Jong-un v Donald Trump and much more a particularly capricious brand of shortsighted parochialism against a worldly wise grasp of the bigger picture.

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