Benitez gets backing from Newcastle hero

Former Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer has backed Rafa Benitez to be a success at the North East club, stating that getting him as the team’s new manager was quite a coup.

The Tyneside outfit are in deep trouble this season and are threatened with relegation with nine Premier League games remaining.

Steve McClaren was given his marching orders after failing to inspire the players or fans, with the former Chelsea and Liverpool boss getting the nod to replace him.

Benitez faces a big task in keeping Newcastle in the top tier, but Shearer feels that the Spaniard will offer the club more of a hope at survival.

“I don’t think they would have stayed up if it had remained the same, but Benitez has given them a big opportunity,” Shearer told BBC Sport.

“It’s a great coup for Newcastle to get someone like Benitez, if – and it’s a big if – he can manage the football club the way he wants to manage.

“What’s been clear is that every manager that Newcastle have appointed has come from a point of weakness, where they’ve not been able to set their own agenda.

“They’ve always had to work to a certain structure, whereas I think Rafa will be different – he’ll set what he wants, he can demand that he controls the transfers, and he can run the football club as he wants to run it.”

Benitez was sacked from Real Madrid earlier this season but has a prestigious record of success at home places he has coached.

Newcastle were beaten 3-1 by Bournemouth in their last game, which was the final straw of McClaren’s forgettable rein at the club.