Benitez replaces McClaren at Newcastle

LONDON. — Steve McClaren has been dismissed by Newcastle just nine months after taking charge at St James’ Park and was replaced by former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez. The club confirmed the news yesterday and immediately engaged Benitez over a three-year deal for him to replace McClaren, who left with the Magpies 19th in the English Premier League and one point from safety.

Benitez returned to English football yesterday with the task of saving Newcastle United from Premier League relegation after the struggling north-east side announced the Spaniard as their new manager.

Former Liverpool boss Benitez, sacked by Real Madrid earlier this season, has signed a three-year deal with Newcastle, who are currently second-bottom in the table with just 10 league games remaining this term.

His appointment was announced just hours after Newcastle confirmed they had sacked former manager McClaren.

“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,” said Benitez in a Newcastle statement.

“It will be a challenge not just for me and my staff but for the players, the club and the fans.”

McClaren was relieved of his duties by Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley — who chose to take the news over the phone rather than meet face-to-face — after toiling through a campaign which saw his side win just six times in 28 Premier League, including just two of their last 12.

A statement from Charnley on the club’s official website read: “After the defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday, 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.

“We acknowledge that reaching this decision has taken a number of days and that this has caused uncertainty for everyone involved, in particular for Steve and the players, for which we apologise. However, we felt that this time was necessary to ensure the right decisions were reached with the best interests of the club at heart.

“I would like to thank Steve personally for his services to Newcastle United. He is a man of integrity and class and he has conducted himself with great dignity during this difficult time.

“Steve worked tirelessly to try and bring success to Newcastle United. He has the utmost respect of all the players, staff and management and he leaves with our very best wishes and sincere thanks.

“We feel that a change is now needed in order to give the club the best possible chance of securing its Premier League future. A further announcement on a successor to Steve will be made in due course.”

Benitez, who has been without a club since being sacked by Real Madrid in January, has been told that he will be able bring his own backroom staff to the club.

He arrived in Newcastle yesterday in time to take training tomorrow and be in the dugout for Monday night’s clash with league leaders Leicester City.

McClaren was appointed last June as a replacement for John Carver and was expected to improve on the club’s 15th-place finish last season.

He was allowed to invest in his squad and has spent £78 million during his time on Tyneside, including £29 million in January. That made Newcastle the Premier League’s biggest spenders in the mid-season transfer window but it has had little impact.

Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksander Mitrovic, Florian Thauvin, Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend were all recruited by McClaren for eight-figure sums.

Of those, only Wijnaldum and Shelvey have been seen as successes by the club’s fans, with the latter appointed as captain in the injured Fabricio Coloccini’s absence.

Alan Pardew had been manager at Newcastle for more than four years until January 2015 following a period which saw the club have six other managers in as many years from 2004 to 2010. — Sky Sports.

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