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Rafael Benítez buckled in for long haul with Newcastle and wants more players

• Championship favourites kick off season at Fulham on Friday
• Eight new signings at St James’ Park and more loans to come

This time last year Rafael Benítez was preparing Real Madrid for an assault on La Liga and the Champions League but, so far at least, he is finding life in the Championship at Newcastle United far from a culture shock.

“We’ve prepared the players the same way as at Real Madrid,” said the Spaniard, whose side kick off their promotion quest at Fulham on Friday night in the Football League’s opening match. “The difference is that this pre-season has been more football-orientated; with Real Madrid it was business, marketing and we were in Australia and China.”

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