Benitez to manage Newcastle

The former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss was installed on a three-year contract with the task of guiding second-bottom Newcastle away from relegation with just 10 league games remaining this season.

RafaelBenitezCropped

Rafael Benitez has a tough job ahead.

Newcastle United have appointed Rafael Benitez as their new manager on a three-year contract. The Spaniard succeeds Steve McClaren, who was sacked earlier on Friday after nine months in the job, and is tasked with preserving Newcastle's top-flight status with the club 19th, one point adrift of safety.

Benitez has been itching to return to the Premier League after a six-year spell at Liverpool, with whom he won the Champions League in 2005 and the FA Cup a year later, and a six-month interim role at Chelsea, which resulted in him landing the 2013 Europa League title.

Since leaving Stamford Bridge three years ago, he spent two seasons with Napoli before being named Real Madrid boss in June 2015. The 55-year-old struggled for acceptance at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, and was dismissed in January with the club third in La Liga.

Newcastle dismissed McClaren on Friday, a club statement apologising for allowing the managerial uncertainty that has engulfed the club to drag on. Following days of intense speculation that he would succeed McClaren, Benitez duly arrived at Newcastle's stadium several hours after the former England boss was sacked. 

The Spaniard has been out of work since he has axed by Real Madrid in January and 19th-placed Newcastle have 10 games to preserve their top-flight status. Next up is Monday's visit to leaders Leicester City, with Newcastle having lost McClaren's final game in charge – a 3-1 home defeat to AFC Bournemouth.

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