Former Arsenal man says derby will define Newcastle boss

Paul Merson has said that defeat in the huge derby tomorrow could kill of Newcastle’s survival hopes.

Newcastle face Sunderland in one of the biggest derby games in European football and the two North-East clubs are fighting relegation. Rafa Benitez saw a marked improvement in the Magpies during his first game against Leicester last weekend, but Merson fears that defeat for Benitez would leave them in a real uphill battle to survive.

Merson claims that Benitez is not the sort of manager to start winning several matches in a row and his best hope is to beat Sunderland and hope to pick up the odd points by making the Magpies hard to beat.

The former Arsenal man is also¬†optimistic about Newcastle’s prospects if Benitez does keep them up. Merson thinks¬†that, with the help of the TV money, Benitez could rebuild at Newcastle and take them on ‘to challenge’ next season.