RAFAEL BENITEZ knows everyone on Tyneside is "excited" about the prospect of a takeover at St James’ Park, but the Newcastle United manager insists his focus will always be on the bigger picture.

The Magpies boss, seen as a crucial part of negotiations with potential buyers of the club, is being kept updated with events behind-the-scenes as Mike Ashley attempts to sell up having officially put the club up for sale on Monday.

It is known Amanda Staveley has signed a non-disclosure agreement and entered a process of due diligence ahead of a potential takeover, with Ashley looking to conclude a deal before Christmas.

Staveley represents PCP Partners, who are understood to be worth £29bn, and Ashley’s lawyer Andrew Henderson has stated she is not alone in the battle for control.

Benitez is remaining cautious about discussing things that could happen, even if he is considering different transfer targets for January varying on how much money he will have to spend.

And he thinks whoever has overall control of the running affairs of Newcastle will always have more to think about than a transfer budget and finances.

"I know that, reading the press in the last few days, it's really important for everyone here (Tyneside),” said Benitez. “I will not change my approach for this game against Crystal Palace on Saturday and I will not change my approach to the next few games.

“It doesn't change anything for me. IF we have money or we don't have money in January, it's January and we still have to do our job and my responsibility is to try to be sure the players are focused.

“You need to do the right things every day. Sometimes when you sign players, it is not the money, it is just the mentality. If you have the right player with the right mentality, it could be a good signing.

“If they have not got the right mentality, maybe it is a bad signing. So if you want to improve any club, the fans, they will see things happening on the pitch but you have to be sure the other things are right and that gives you more guarantees on the pitch.

“But you cannot change the academy and change the training ground and after that have a team that is losing every game because it would not change too much.

“A club is like a train with the engine at the front. You need a powerful engine but you put more carriages on and you need a more powerful engine still. For instance, you have marketing, commercial, communications etc.

“So if the engine is not strong enough and does not have the power, you have to win games and have a good team and that will help all the other things. If you can do everything right, you can improve the engine at the same time.”

Benitez was at Liverpool in March 2007 when Americans George Gillett and Tom Hicks took over and, after a series of fall-outs, the Spaniard ended up leaving the club he led to Champions League success in 2010.

In that sense he knows not all takeovers guarantee successful times, although he knows Newcastle – without a trophy since 1969 and nothing domestically since 1955 – have the potential to be a real force in the English game with the right backing.

He said: "It's one of the top sides in England if you put everything together. The question is, is it reaching its level? Obviously, no. Can we do it? I think so. We have to do everything right. It's not just if you have money, you have to have the right players with the right mentality coming here.

"You have to put a lot of things together, if you have good staff, people working in advance you have more chance to do well.”

Asked what heights Newcastle can reach, ahead of a game when they are looking to climb deeper into the top ten against Palace, Benitez said: “A higher level than we are at the moment. I think we can do better.

“I don't want to say too much because I know you're looking for the headline but this club has to be in the top ten. I don't say that because of the fans or the city, it's because you can see when you compare to other clubs you can see the potential is there.

“It's just to do the right things. I think we can be in the top ten. What does that mean? ninth, tenth or maybe more. It depends if we do the right things.”

Benitez has won trophies at every club he has been at and, unless they go on a glorious FA Cup run, this year he will go without silverware – having spent last season in the Championship. He would love to celebrate success again sooner rather than later.

He said: “Obviously, you want to win trophies and want to compete but you have to adapt in any way. I was at Extramedura and obviously we could not win trophies and the aim of the team was to be safe at the end of the season.

“You want to win trophies and make sure your team can win games and if you start winning games, you push your target higher and higher. At the moment the aim is to make sure the team is improving. They are learning and we are going in the right direction.

“When I signed here it was because I could see the potential. And not just because of the fans and the city. If possible, I want to improve the team, to be sure we can compete in other competitions and go higher in the table. “