Newcastle legend Alan Shearer hails coup of getting ex-Real Madrid and Inter Milan boss Benitez
Former Newcastle captain Alan Shearer insists the appointment of Rafael Benitez is a 'good coup' for the club.
Ex-Real Madrid boss Benitez was named as the new Magpies manager on Friday afternoon and is tasked with staving off the threat of relegation from the Barclays Premier League with just 10 games remaining.
Newcastle, who sacked Steve McClaren just a few hours before appointing the Spaniard as his successor, are one point adrift of safety as the season enters its closing stages.
Yet while Shearer accepts Benitez faces the toughest task of his managerial career, he believes the 55-year-old has what it takes to succeed.
Shearer told BBC Sport: “I think it’s a good coup for Newcastle. I’m surprised, when you consider how much success he’s had and the clubs he’s been at.
“What’s different about this appointment is that all the other managers that have been appointed under Mike Ashley have been in a position of weakness.
“(They have) not being able to name their terms, they’ve had to put up with a transfer system that hasn’t benefited the club or themselves, and other things.
“Whereas Rafa can come in, he can put down exactly what he wants, he’s not a head coach, he’s a manager, he can have the transfer system –both incomings and outgoings – and he can name all that before coming in.”
When asked whether Benitez has taken on the biggest test of his career, Shearer said: “Yes, to put it bluntly.
“It’s a very tough challenge for him, he’s never been in a relegation battle before.
“He’s always managed top players and been very successful at doing that, but I think it’s an excellent appointment.”
Shearer - who scored a club-record 206 goals during a 10-year playing career at St James’ Park - was not surprised to see McClaren depart.
“I don’t think he can complain about what’s happened because for the vast majority of this season Newcastle have been in the bottom three,” he added. “They’ve been big spenders, so it’s been a disaster really, from start to finish.
“When you look at the way he has been treated for the past four or five days it is not a surprise, it’s a difficult situation for him.”