Magpies hire Rafa to keep them up

Steve McClaren won only six of his 28 Premier League games in charge of Newcastle, leaving the club in 19th place and one point adrift of safety. He has been replaced by former Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez.
Steve McClaren won only six of his 28 Premier League games in charge of Newcastle, leaving the club in 19th place and one point adrift of safety. He has been replaced by former Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Former Liverpool boss signs for three years, as Newcastle lose patience with McClaren

LONDON • Rafael Benitez was appointed as Newcastle United's new manager yesterday, just hours after Steve McClaren's sacking was confirmed.

Benitez, the former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager, arrived on Tyneside yesterday morning to complete negotiations with the English Premier League football club and has now been confirmed on a three-year deal.

"I have the pleasure to confirm I have committed to a legendary English club, with the massive challenge of remaining part of the Premier League," he said in a statement. "It will be a challenge not just for me and my staff but for the players, the club and the fans.

"All of us must push together in the same direction and with the same target in mind. This is the reason why I'm going to ask for your total support to successfully complete this task. Personally, it means my return to the Premier League, closer to my home and my family. I can't be happier. C'mon Toon Army! The club and I need your total involvement!"

The club also confirmed that Fabio Pecchia, Francisco de Miguel Moreno and Antonio Gomez Perez will join existing coaches Ian Cathro and Simon Smith on the staff, with Paul Simpson, Alessandro Schoenmaker and Steve Black leaving with immediate effect.

Managing director Lee Charnley said: "I am very pleased to welcome Rafa Benitez to the club. In Rafa we have, without doubt, secured the services of one of Europe's top managers.

"He has managed some of the most successful teams at the very highest level of the game and we are proud to now have him as our manager. Our sole focus now is to give our full support to Rafa, his coaching team and the players in order to secure our status in the Premier League."

The Spaniard's most recent coaching job, at Real, ended unhappily in January after seven months. He was sacked and replaced by Zinedine Zidane, with the club third in La Liga after Real suffered a humiliating 4-0 home defeat by Barcelona on his watch. He won an FA Cup and Champions League during his time in charge of Liverpool.

The 55-year-old has 10 matches to preserve Newcastle's Premier League status, with the first of those games coming against league leaders Leicester City on Monday.

Newcastle opted to put McClaren out of his misery yesterday, after the Englishman, who signed a three-year contract in June, won just six of 28 Premier League games in charge and left the club second bottom of the table.

"After the defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday (March 5), the club has spent some time considering its position and has today concluded that Steve McClaren's employment with the club will end with immediate effect," a Newcastle statement said.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2016, with the headline 'MAGPIES HIRE RAFA TO KEEP THEM UP'. Print Edition | Subscribe