RAFAEL BENITEZ last night hinted at his mounting frustration over Newcastle United’s failure to land the quality players he wants to safeguard their Premier League future.

Benitez admitted yesterday following a 2-0 win over Hellas Verona: "When I decided to stay I was expecting another thing. Now we are where we are.”

There are echoes of Kevin Keegan’s famous comment when he was denied funds by United - "it’s not like it said in the brochure".

But, while Benitez remains determined to stay at United, owner Mike Ashley appears to be on dangerous ground if the club don’t sanction big-money deals before the transfer deadline.

“I decided to stay because of a lot of positive things I could see starting with the fans,” said Benitez, who is desperate to land a striker before the Premier League season begins..

“Now I will try to do my best to be sure that the team we have will be good enough to compete and stay as high as we can in the Premier League

The United manager has been able to spend just £31m to strengthen his squad ahead of their return to the Premier League and now has injury worries over striker Dwight Gayle.

Benitez certainly expected to be handed a far bigger budget to spend on new players, but Ashley is believed to be unhappy over massive wages being paid to players who are not in the manager’s plans.

United have signed only five players at a cost of just £31m, but Benitez is still under pressure to sell before can buy again.

“We are trying to move players out to bring players in. We know where we are and what we need,” he said. “We are looking at different options. If we can’t get one, we have to look at others.”

“We know what we need and will try to do this until the end of the transfer window. We are trying to go in different directions at the same time.”

Gayle missed United’s final warm-up game yesterday because he is worried about a hamstring problem which also troubled him last season.

Benitez said:”It’s not his hamstring - it’s more the feeling that he has. He’s not comfortable and we don’t want to take any risks.

“Dwight is training with the fitness coach, so hopefully he can carry on training this week. If everything is fine, I think he will be okay for Sunday.

“He needs the confidence to know he can sprint and do everything as he was doing before. It’s a question of confidence, so we will carry on pushing him in training and hopefully we can get back the confidence.”

Ayoze Perez and Christian Atsu scored Newcastle’s goal in United’s comfortable win over Verona as Benitez's starting line-up featured nine players who were involved in last season’s promotion side.

If Gayle is ruled out and there are no further signings this week, it is likely to be the side that starts against Tottenham on Sunday.

Benitez said:”The main things is that - like last season - we need competition in every department. Then players will realise you have to give everything - it’s not the Championship anymore, it’s the Premier League.

“Everybody has to create problems for me. If they work hard and train well, I have to decide who to pick.

“It was an entertaining game for the fans. We scored two goals, had other chances and tried to do what we wanted to do. We moved the ball quickly, regained it as soon as possible when giving it away and tried to have a high tempo.

Newcastle 4-2-3-1: Elliot (Darlow 64); Manquillo (Murphy 64), Lejeune (Mbemba 64), Clark (Lascelles 64), Dummett (Gamez 64); Shelvey Merino 64), Hayden; Ritchie, Perez (De Jong 72), Atsu (Aarons 64); Mitrovi? (Diame 64).

Hellas Verona 4-2-3-1: Nicholas; Bearzotti, Kumbulla, Souprayen, Fares; Zuculini, Buchel; Cerci, Bessa, Verde; Pazzini. Subs: Silvestri, Ferrari, Souza Orestes, Felicioli, Fossati, Stefanec, Laner, Zaccagni, Valotik, Luppi, Coppola.

Referee|: Neil Swarbrick