Premier League

Benitez to stay at Newcastle

Rafael Benitez will stay on as Newcastle United boss after signing a three-year contract, despite the club’s relegation from the Premier League.

The former Real Madrid head coach took charge at St James’ Park after the sacking of Steve McClaren in March, but was unable to prevent the club from dropping into the Championship.

Newcastle fans have given firm backing to the Spaniard despite his failure to beat the drop, with their side having ended the season on a six-game unbeaten run that culminated in a 5-1 thrashing of Tottenham on the final day of the season.

Benitez’s decision to remain at St James’ Park comes after lengthy talks with owner Mike Ashley, with Newcastle confirming on Wednesday that the 56-year-old had been granted “day-to-day responsibility for all football-related matters”.

The ex-Liverpool and Chelsea manager commented: “I am extremely pleased to be staying at Newcastle United.

“The love I could feel from the fans was a big influence for me in my decision to stay, as was my relationship with Lee Charnley and all the staff.

“This is a huge club and I wanted to be part of the great future I can see for Newcastle United.”

Managing director Charnley added: “When we brought Rafa to the club in March, we knew he was a phenomenal manager and everything we have seen from him since has only served to reinforce that.

“We are therefore delighted to have secured his services for the next three years and I believe with Rafa as manager it gives us the best possible chance of returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking and delivering success for this football club beyond that.

“It is clear that Rafa has connected deeply with the club’s supporters and we do not underestimate the role they have played in his decision to stay.

“He has captured the hearts and minds not just of the fans, but of everyone who has had the pleasure of working with him at the club thus far.

“As a world-class manager we had no doubt in our minds as to the importance of retaining him at Newcastle United.”

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