Rafael Benitez to Newcastle fans: 'I wanted to stay ... but those at the top did not share the same vision'
Benitez spent more than three years at St James' Park but left on June 30 after he could not agree terms on a new contract
Rafael Benitez has revealed he wanted to stay at Newcastle United but decided to leave because he and the club "did not share the same vision".
Benitez spent more than three years at St James' Park, taking over the club in March 2016 but could not save the side from Premier League relegation.
The Spaniard led Newcastle to immediate promotion the following season, before securing a 10th-placed finish in their first campaign back in the top flight. Newcastle then finished 13th last season.
Despite Benitez's success at the club and strong affinity with the fans, he could not agree fresh terms with the Premier League club's hierarchy. His previous deal expired on June 30.
On his first day following his exit from Newcastle, Benitez released an open letter to Newcastle fans explaining his exit and thanking them for their support.
"Thank you for three fantastic, exciting and, at times challenging years," Benitez said in the letter released on his social media accounts.
"What we have had here - your support, your affection and your passion - has been unbelievable for me. From winning the Championship, to our two seasons in the Premier League, fans, staff and players have all been United.
"I wanted to stay, but I didn't just want to sign an extended contract, I wanted to be part of a project. Unfortunately, it became increasingly clear to me that those at the top of the Club did not share the same vision.
"I'm very sad about that, but I do not regret one moment my decision to come to Tyneside and I'm very proud about what we achieved together."
Updated: July 1, 2019 12:40 PM